Fifteen years ago, the Arenas family set out to create more than just a sports facility — they aimed to forge a place where local Hispanic communities could come together, where basketball could transcend boundaries and where the spirit of unity could flourish. Today, that dream has blossomed into a vibrant hub of activity that extends beyond the confines of the court.
The Arenas Sports Center’s basketball leagues and pickup games draw people from all corners of the city and state. But in addition to hoops and hardwood, the indoor facility at 1110 NW Second St. in OKC plays host to Zumbathons, boxing matches and even weddings — a reflection of the diverse tapestry of culture and community within Oklahoma City.
At the heart of it all lies a commitment to providing a space where everyone feels welcomed and cherished, particularly OKC’s Hispanic communities. Founder and CEO Marlene Arenas brings her vision and passion to the forefront alongside co-founder Mario Arenas and chief operating officer Sofia Arenas.
Tell me a little about your heritage and background.
Marlene: Arenas Sports Center is a family-owned business, and our journey is deeply rooted in our diverse backgrounds. I was born in Oklahoma City, while my parents originally come from Peru. Mario Arenas, the co-founder, was born in Guatemala and has been a resident of the United States for over 30 years. Sofia Arenas, our COO, was born and raised in Oklahoma City. Together, the three of us share a passion for community involvement and have long been committed to uplifting those around us.
What inspired the creation of the sports center?
Marlene: The idea for Arenas Sports Center originated from observing several soccer leagues catering to the Hispanic community in Oklahoma City. One day, we were approached by women’s basketball teams, inquiring if we would be willing to organize a basketball league. We recognized the high demand for the sport and the need for a dedicated space, so we embarked on this venture.
What is the organization of basketball teams like, and is participation determined through tryouts, or is it open to all?
Sofia: Arenas Sports Center hosts a men’s basketball league that plays every weekend. Our league is open to all, with a special focus on fostering the Hispanic community. With over 40 teams per season, eight guaranteed games and four divisions to choose from, there’s a place for everyone. Tryouts are not required.
How does the sports center reinforce community and Hispanic heritage?
Sofia: From the outset, our primary goal has been to create a space where we can bring together the Oklahoma community through sports, culture and community events … Our league participants consistently invite friends, families and even out-of-state visitors to their games. This has led to a remarkable growth in our community presence. We now have designated seating areas, provide food options and play music during the games to accommodate our spectators.
Furthermore, we’ve noticed that many people enjoy spending the entire day with us, cheering on their friends as they compete. This sense of camaraderie and togetherness is truly special. In terms of preserving and celebrating our heritage, we take great pride in the cultural diversity of our teams, and we actively encourage our teams to express their cultural pride through their team names and uniforms.
For more information about Arenas Sports Center or joining a league, visit arenassportscenter.com.