City could take a step for Drillers downtown
BY P.J. LASSEK World Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
6/30/09 at 3:48 PM
A shared assessment within the Inner Dispersal Loop would be the first move for funds.
The creation of a Tulsa Stadium Improvement District, the first step toward securing funding for a downtown ballpark, is being considered, Mayor Kathy Taylor said Tuesday.
The district would allow for a 6 1/2 -cent assessment per square foot to be collected annually on commercial real estate within the Inner Dispersal Loop.
The district would replace the city's current Downtown Tulsa Improvement District, which was adopted nearly 30 years ago and is set to expire June 30, 2009.
If approved by the City Council, the new assessment district would be activated July 1, 2009.
A public hearing will be held at the July 10 City Council meeting for input and possible council action.
If the district is approved, "then we will have shovels in the ground this fall, and the goal will be for the Drillers to be open for the 2010 season."
Taylor is working with Tulsa Drillers' owner Chuck Lamson to construct a multiuse stadium that would be the new home to the city's Double A minor league baseball team.
Officials estimate that the assessment would raise at least an amount equal to the $1.1 million currently collected annually for downtown services and would still be allocated for such services.
The remainder, estimated at $25 million over 30 years, would help finance the ballpark.
The estimated stadium cost is between $55 million and $60 million, Taylor said.
In addition to the $25 million from the assessment district, $25 million to $35 million would come from private donors, and between $5 million and $10 million would come from the stadium's revenue, based upon the city's agreement with Lamson, which isn't finalized.
In late May, Taylor and Lamson agreed to extend until July 15 a deadline on an exclusive agreement to negotiate terms on building a new downtown baseball stadium.
Taylor said the city has two possible locations for the ballpark.
One site, which has been publicly announced, is in the East Village on a site where two previous projects — a Wal-Mart Supercenter and a previous baseball stadium proposal — had fallen through.
The alternative site is in the Brady District. Taylor stopped short of outlining the exact spot, saying the city has not secured the necessary land.
Both proposed sites would provide for a great view of the Tulsa skyline, she said.
Taylor said a new trust would be created for the stadium, with the city being its sole beneficiary. The trust would have the ability to fund the project in advance, with the assessment fees used to repay the debt, she said.
Taylor said it is a good financial formula because half of the funding would come from private donations but the stadium would be owned by the city.
"Those who stand to benefit from it the most will help assist in the other part of the financing," she said.
Property owners would be paying the revised assessments for only six months before the ballpark opens, the mayor said. The opening of the city's new arena, the BOK Center, and a new stadium would generate about 1 million additional visits to downtown yearly, Taylor said.
A preliminary economic impact study from an Oklahoma State University economist indicates that the BOK Center and stadium would generate new retail spending of about $6 million annually and would support 110 local jobs with a yearly payroll of $2 million.
Taylor said architects have been asked to design the stadium to also host youth soccer "but not do anything that compromises the integrity of the ballpark."
The stadium would have 6,200 fixed seats, fewer than originally proposed, to create an intimate setting. It also would have 30 to 35 suites and additional berm seating.
P.J. Lassek 581-8382