Fair board to hear public comments on naming rights agreement
BY KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer
Monday, December 03, 2012
12/03/12 at 1:30 PM
The Tulsa County fair board will take public comments when it meets Thursday to consider an amended naming rights agreement with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, according to a statement issued by the fair board Monday.
The statement makes no mention of whether the agreement’s most controversial provision - which ends live horse racing at Fair Meadows Racetrack - would be discussed by the fair board.
Thursday's meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. in the ExpoServe conference room of the armory annex on the fairgrounds.
The board unanimously and without comment approved the deal Nov. 1, sparking outrage among horsemen across the state who claim the deal will devastate their industry.
“An agenda item will be considered for action on an amended Naming Rights and Sponsorship Agreement with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation regarding waiver of sovereign immunity which were made and approved by the Muscogee (Creek) Nation after the approval of the Agreement by TCPFA at its meeting last month,” the statement reads.
The statement goes on to say that it is County Commissioner and fair board Chairman Perry Perry's intention to allow public comment on the amended agreement.
The fair board, also known as the Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority, is made up of five members: the three county commissioners - Perry, Karen Keith and John Smaligo - and two appointees, Daryl Woodard and Mike Spradling.
As the agreement currently exists, 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 as part of an agreement to end live racing at the Fair Meadows Racetrack.
Without a license to hold live races, Fair Meadows will not receive the $2 million a year it was receiving from the Creek, Osage and Cherokee tribes in lieu of having gaming machines.
The tribes will also not have to continue paying into a fund that went to the horse racing purses statewide. The purse fund averaged $6.8 million a year between 2007 and 2011.
The agreement calls for the exposition center at Expo Square to be renamed the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Center.
The new contract also gives the Creek Nation the right over the next two years to propose a plan for development of the land now occupied by old Drillers Stadium.
Gov. Mary Fallin has asked her staff to look into the circumstances surrounding the closure of the racetrack.
The fair board has said repeatedly that live racing is no longer financially viable at Fair Meadows and that the board's first obligation is to the tax payers of Tulsa County.
Attorney Mark Ramsey, who is representing the state quarter horse and thoroughbred associations, said he plans to attend Thursday's meeting.
Horses round the curve at the Fair Meadows racetrack in 2011. The fair board on Thursday will consider an amended naming rights agreement with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation that ended live horse racing at the the track. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World file