Almost 62% of Oklahoma City voters last week approved a plan to extend a 1% sales tax to finance improvements at the city-owned Ford Center so it can be the new home of the National Basketball Association’s Seattle SuperSonics.

The tax was to expire Dec. 31, but will now be collected through June 2010. It is expected to generate $121 million, with $100 million dedicated to work at the downtown arena and $20 million for a basketball practice facility for the team.

The 44,849 voters going to the polls was a turnout of 30.8%, about double the average for municipal elections in the city.

NBA owners will meet April 17 to vote on a request by the team’s Oklahoma City-based ownership group for the move.

If the team does not relocate to Oklahoma City, the tax would expire Dec. 31, 2009, and the practice facility would not be built. The $100 million generated over the shorter span would fund the planned upgrades to the arena.

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