Thunder up! 

That is to say, the Thunder changed the city.

Now, instead of Charles Barkley not knowing where Oklahoma City is, he lampoons it weekly on TNT. Progress!

The NBA’s arrival has energized the city, and no sector feels that energy more than the metro’s hospitality industry. Sure, one can snag a couple tickets from the Thunder box office, and once in the Oklahoma City Arena, you can expect to partake in a variety of options.

But what if you don’t have tickets? Don’t worry, sports fans, the city’s got you covered.

“It’s just more fun to watch the games with a lot of other people,” said Janet Smith, manager of Cross Eyed Moose Sports Cantina, 10601 S. Western. “You get a lot of other people that are cheering. When you go to the bar, you know you’re going to have a bunch of people that are cheering with you.”

The Moose, which is a popular watch spot for sports of all kinds, hosts watch parties for the Thunder with specials including $2 Corona, $2.50 Bud Light bottles and $6 Bud Light pitchers. The next Thunder game is tonight versus the Indian Pacers and an away game this Friday against the Atlanta Hawks.

With an 8-foot projection screen, 42 large televisions and small viewing screens in each booth, Smith said the Moose is eager for fans to join them

above Mitchel Haynes and Laurean Hawes at Brix

for games.

For those looking to participate a little more directly in the game night feel, Brix Restaurant & Sports Lounge, 27 E. Sheridan in Bricktown, is just a short walk from the Oklahoma City Arena and often plays host to pre- and postgame crowds. Brix features $10 beer buckets and $4 mixed drink specials for Thunder fans who come to watch the action on the 200-inch highdefinition projection screen and 30 flat-screen televisions.

“We get a lot of people come in before and after the games if they have tickets, and a totally different crowd who come to watch from here,” said Mitchel Haynes, Brix general manager.

“Not many people have a TV in their house as big as ours,” he said. “And if you’re at home, you don’t have someone to wait on you. I think that service is part of why people want to get out of the house to watch a game.”

Ed Trombley, general manager at Louie’s Grill & Bar, 9401 Lake Hefner Parkway, agrees that service is a big motivator for people who come to join their fellow fans, despite a lack of actual game tickets.

“People like to come to my place because we thrive on making people feel special,” he said. “They can watch the game and watch the lake all at the same time.”

Trombley said Louie’s regularly hosts game watch parties, as well as features half-price domestics every day from 3 to 7 p.m., which he said are popular with fans looking to get out and cheer their team with their comrades.

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