OKLAHOMA CITY – Less than a day after announcing the search for a new naming rights partner, the Oklahoma City Thunder announced Tuesday a newly formed partnership with Oklahoma City based Willis Lawn Services.
“Willis has brought a lot of green to the city in the way of lawns over the last 12 years, and we’re so proud that they have chosen to add Blue and Orange to the colors they promote!” said Bayton Clennett – Chairman of the Thunder. “We’re truly humbled to have such a winning company reach out to partner with us so quickly.”
We spoke with Brandon Ward – who played an integral part in negotiations and has achieved high praise within the Willis company family for the rapid structuring of the deal.
“You know, this really was a long time coming – I had a vision for this that began when the Ford Center became the Chesapeake Energy Arena. We knew that we could positively impact the arena back then but the timing wasn’t right. With the bankruptcy of Chesapeake last year we were on high alert which led to the rapid structuring and execution of the naming partnership. We think Chesapeake did a great job and we’re excited for the future.”
Initial plans for the arena include installing real grass on every floor in the facility, excluding only the arena floor.
“The Thunder pleaded with us to install a lawn on the arena floor because they’ve always dreamed of playing ball on grass that we treat.” explained Ward. “Unfortunately we were not going to budge on this. We felt that while millions would come to see how nice the grass would be, it wouldn’t be good for the team in the long run.”
The entire exterior will have “vertical lawn” covering the brick which Ward mentioned will be exciting for the public when they see how green Willis can make the vertical lawn.
Ward also mentioned Willis’s partnership with Tesla will bring an innovative approach to maintenance of the vertical lawn, but wasn’t ready to provide details yet.
UPDATE: Shortly after our interview with Ward we were told he may be within a month of closing a deal to bring the NFL to Oklahoma City. However, when we located him he was fishing in his Thunder socks and refused to speak to us about it. “I guess you’ll have to wait and see.” is all he gave us along with a wink and smirk.