Creek Nation buys naming rights at Expo Square, horse racing to end
BY KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer
Thursday, November 01, 2012
The days of live horse racing at Fair Meadows Racetrack are over.
The Tulsa County fair board voted unanimously Thursday to approve a lucrative naming-rights deal with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation that not only changes the name of the QuikTrip Center at Expo Square but includes a provision to cease live racing at the racetrack.
“Certainly we appreciate the fact that they (the tribe) wanted to enter into a long-term relationship with the fairgrounds,” said Fair Meadows Race Director Ron Shotts. “This certainly will go a long way to ensure our financial security in the future and allow us to maintain and upkeep all of these wonderful facilities that the citizens have helped us build.”
Beginning in January, the tribe will pay the fairgrounds $120,000 a month — or $1.44 million a year — to put its name on the 448,400-square-foot event center currently called the QuikTrip Center.
The agreement runs through 2019 but will stay in effect beyond that as long as the state’s Indian tribes have a gaming compact with the Remington Park and Will Rogers Downs racetracks in Oklahoma City and Claremore, respectively.
According to the contract, the exposition center will be renamed the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Center.
Since 2007, QuikTrip has been paying more than $200,000 per year for naming rights on the center. That agreement with the fairgrounds will end in December.
The new contract also gives the Creek Nation the first right to propose over the next two years a plan for development of the land now occupied by Drillers Stadium.
Creek Nation Principal Chief George Tiger “and I both are dedicated to establishing a relationship with the city of Tulsa,” said Sam Alexander, the tribe’s National Council speaker. “The tribe hasn’t had one. We intend to do something about that, and this is part of that.”
Fair board Chairman Fred Perry said any plans for development of the ballpark, the former home of the Tulsa Drillers, must be approved by the fair board and that the property will not become home to a casino.
Alexander said the tribe is working on plans for the property but provided no specifics.
Read more of this story in Friday's Tulsa World and on tulsaworld.com tomorrow.
In this file photo, live racing is seen at Fair Meadows in June 2011. Live racing will cease at the track under an agreement with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation that begins in January. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World
The grandstand is nearly empty as SM Firstdown Country, ridden by Cody Smith, poses in the winner's circle at the Fair Meadows race track on June 16, 2011. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World file
The QuikTrip Center -- formerly the Exposition Center -- at Expo Square will be called the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Center after the end of this year. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World