Here’s the truth: Oklahoma City knows it is not Seattle.
Dear Danny, I saw your column in The Seattle Times and as a longtime Oklahoma City beat writer and columnist at The Oklahoman, I’d like to address as many of your questions and concerns as possible.
First, please know that we in Oklahoma City understand your town’s unhappiness over the loss of your NBA team. We’ve also watched as your city has done what it could to get the Sacramento Kings to move to Seattle.
The NBA is big business.
The Thunder got hit with the injury bug last season, but we’re hoping the pundits are correct that our squad, if healthy, may be the team everyone fears going into 2016.
I’m still confused about the whole elephant debate – we have a very nice zoo with incredible accommodations for elephants. If you ever visit Oklahoma City, I’ll take you to visit so you can see it for yourself.
Now, let’s talk about that “big friendly” bit. Nobody locally that I know uses that phrase. It was pitched by a retired ad man (and good friend) several years ago who has since passed away.
You’ve probably seen the “KD is not nice” Nike commercials, right? Well, if you ever watched our state lawmakers in session, you would instantly realize that we can go against our “friendly” reputation. On the basketball court, in the state Capitol, and yes, in competing for jobs, “OKC is not nice.”
Here’s the truth: Oklahoma City knows it is not Seattle. I’ve never been to your city, but thanks to the age we live in, it’s pretty easy to digitally travel the world, and I’ve spent many hours (quite literally) reading stories, looking at photos and watching videos of your city.
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Oklahoma City has to work harder at getting jobs and doing economic development because, quite frankly, we’re not as blessed as Seattle is in terms of geography and design.”
Seattle, from what I’ve seen, is beautiful. Seattle is one of those towns admired by urban planners and urbanophiles around the country. Watching the fish being thrown around at the Pike Place Fish Market is on my bucket list. Just spending a week in your downtown would be heaven for me.
Oklahoma City has to work harder at getting jobs and doing economic development because, quite frankly, we’re not as blessed as Seattle is in terms of geography and design. Seattle is greatly admired.
I am intrigued by your hint at a trade. We won’t give up our city’s economic development team. Cathy O’Connor, Brent Bryant, John Michael Williams, Dan Brummitt, Kenny Jordan, Dan Batchelor and Leslie Batchelor (not household names here or in Seattle) are experienced pros at crafting economic incentive packages that ensure performance on promised job growth and often create deals that result in money coming back to the city.
Here’s a deal for you to consider: Seattle gets six Oklahoma lawmakers chosen through a special Oklahoma City election, and we’ll take six of your most obnoxious anarchists. We’ll give them jobs as TV storm trackers.
I fully understand Boeing’s history in Seattle. As I understand it, it was just business when Boeing merged with McDonnell-Douglas and St. Louis lost a big corporate headquarters. It was also just business when Boeing moved its corporate headquarters to Chicago. You may not realize that if not for a bad executive succession plan and the oil bust of the 1980s, we may have seen our once beloved TG&Y being the Walmart of today, and Sam Walton’s Walmart remaining just a small regional chain.
We lost some other big corporate players, like Fleming Foods and Kerr-McGee. Braniff Airlines was started in Oklahoma City and we might have had a chance at getting one of those golden airport hubs if we hadn’t lost the airline to Texas.
We hate Texas. But to be honest, that has little to do with business competition — it’s about a football game we play at the State Fair of Texas every fall. Our rivalry is so intense you’ll often see Sooners and Texans ending up drinking together and even sharing some laughs in between the jabs and insults hurled at each other.
It’s the kind of rivalry Seattle simply can’t understand, and really, won’t ever adequately live up to. But it might make for a great new distraction for your city’s anarchists if you choose to agree to my proposal.
(Reprinted with permission, The Oklahoman, Copyright 2015. Original version of this column posted here.)