Future new home for OU Sooner basketball could get approved this week

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Lloyd Noble Center has been the home of Oklahoma basketball for 50 years. That could all change at a meeting of the Norman City Council on Thursday.

Up for a vote is a proposed $1 billion entertainment district development in Norman. The development would include a new 8,000 seat arena for University of Oklahoma athletic teams.

OU athletic director Joe Castiglione and Norman mayor Larry Heikkila are optimistic that the proposed development will pass. First the proposal must pass by a vote of the city planning commission. If that happens, a second vote is expected to take place by the members of the city Council shortly thereafter.

If passed, Oklahoma could have a new arena for basketball and gymnastics as early as the 2027-28 sports season.

According to Danny Lovell, a resident and native of Henryetta, Oklahoma, and CEO of Dallas-based Ranier Companies, a commercial real estate investment firm, the first phase of the development would include the arena, retail operations and at least 250 of the development's expected 700 multi-family housing units.

The development would be north of University Town Center near the intersection of 24th Avenue and Rock Creek Road. The new arena would be about four miles away from the OU campus.

Ownership of the arena remains to be determined. The University of Oklahoma Foundation currently owns the land, but it is not clear yet who will own and operate the arena once it is built.

Financing for proposed development will come from private investment and the university's contribution, which will cover about 80 percent of the cost. The remaining 25 percent will come from the taxpayers

Castiglione told reporters the university's total financial commitment to the project be over $100 million, with $25 million going toward investment and $75 million towards "a combination of rent and operations in going to the bottom line of the arena itself" over about a 25-year period.

The Lloyd Noble Center was opened in October 1975 and has served as the home of Oklahoma basketball and gymnastics every since. The Sooners have won 82 percent (612-129) of their home games at the LNC over the past 50 seasons.