Fair board OKs amended naming rights agreement ending live racing at Fair Meadows
BY KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer
Thursday, December 06, 2012
12/06/12 at 5:05 PM
The Tulsa County fair board on Thursday stuck by its decision to end live horse racing at Fair Meadows Racetrack.
In a 4-0 vote, the board approved an amended version of a naming rights agreement with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation that includes a provision ending live horse racing at the racetrack.
On Thursday, the fair board gave the public one hour to speak on the agreement.
Chairman Fred Perry said the fair board did not take questions from the public on the advice of legal counsel.
“We have been notified of litigation proceedings and whenever you are in that kind of situation, legal counsel tends to advise his clients in that manner,” Perry said.
The agreement calls for the tribe to 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.
Still up for debate is whether the tribes are still required to pay into a fund to supplement horse racing purses statewide. The purse fund averaged $6.8 million a year between 2007 and 2011.
Attorney Mark Ramsey, representing the state’s thoroughbred and quarter horse associations, told the fair board he believes the tribes are obligated to pay into the fund and that he intends to make sure they do.
“This board has no authority to excuse payment of the compact,” Ramsey said. “So you need to know that anything that you do we are going to ask Gov. (Mary) Fallin to make it an issue with the National Indian Gaming Commission (and go to) arbitration if necessary,” Ramsey said.
About 75 people attended the meeting.
The board voted unanimously and without comment Nov. 1 to do the same thing.
Fair board trustees have said previously that they based their decision on what was in the best interests of the taxpayers of Tulsa County.
The costs of holding the live meet continues to rise while wagering and attendance has declined dramatically, making the venture a losing proposition, the trustees say.
The fair board is made up of five members: three Tulsa County commissioners - Perry, Karen Keith and John Smaligo - and two appointees, Daryl Woodard and Mike Spradling.
Spradling was absent from Thursday’s meeting.
Read more in Friday's Tulsa World.
In this June 2011 file photo, Jesus Salazar (center, blue), races horses at Fair Meadows. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World File