Gov. Brad Henry and former governors David Boren, Frank Keating, and George Nigh have endorsed Oklahoma City’s plans to use a 1% city sales tax to renovate a downtown arena as the home of the National Basketball Association’s Seattle SuperSonics.

City voters will go to the polls today to decide whether to extend the sales tax, which would expire Dec. 31, for another 15 months. The tax would generate $121.6 million to renovate the Ford Center and build a practice facility that is expected to cost $20 million.

A group of Oklahoma City investors purchased the basketball team in July 2006 for $350 million. The NBA board of governors will consider a request to move the team next month.

Henry called approval of the arena tax a “bold and visionary step” for Oklahoma City.

“The impact of these improvements extends well beyond the chance of seeing your favorite basketball stars up close and personal,” Henry said in a statement released by Citizens for a Big League City, which supports the arena plan. “Joining the ranks of only 28 other American cities with an NBA team sends a clear and powerful message to the nation. It elevates Oklahoma City to a rarefied status of cities boasting an aura of energy and style.”

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