Developers to pitch Broken Arrow casino plan to Creek Nation panel
BY SUSAN HYLTON World Staff Writer
Friday, December 07, 2012
12/07/12 at 8:42 AM
BROKEN ARROW - A controversial casino plan that once involved the Kialegee Tribal Town may get new life with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.
A new proposal from the Florida developers behind the court-defeated Red Clay Casino would have the Creeks manage the casino instead of the Kialegee. The tribe would receive a 70 percent cut of the gaming revenues without having to invest a dime.
The proposal from Luis Figueredo and Shane Rolls of The Red Clay Group is expected to be presented to a joint committee of the tribe in the next week. They estimate that the casino would generate $15 million to $25 million a year for the tribe.
If approved, it would proceed to the National Council, the tribe's legislative body, for consideration at its upcoming meeting on Dec. 15.
While a copy of the draft resolution obtained by the Tulsa World outlines some specifics, Eddie LaGrone, co-sponsor of the resolution, said it was "irrelevant" because the proposal being considered is whether the tribe wishes to negotiate with The Red Clay Group.
"It may say the sky is blue and the negotiation provides for snow," LaGrone said.
The landowners of the restricted Creek allotment, sisters Marcella Giles and Wynema Capps, would lease the property to the tribe for $450,000 a year for 10 years, according to the proposal.
National Council Speaker Sam Alexander said that The Red Clay Group proposes to pay for the lease out of its 30 percent share of gaming revenues, which is a split from income off the gambling machines.
The developers propose to finish and pay for construction of the casino at the southwest corner of Florence Street (111th Street) and Olive Avenue (129th East Avenue) and sell the casino building to the tribe for $1.
But Alexander said the proposal hasn't even been presented to the tribe's gaming regulatory officials or the National Indian Gaming Commission to get their take on it.
Construction of the casino was well under way last January but was then halted in May by U.S. Chief District Judge Gregory Frizzell, who rejected the argument that the Kialegee Tribal Town shared jurisdiction with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.
"You have to recognize these are businessmen and businessmen take chances," Alexander said of the developers. "They're simply trying to salvage a project."
Frizzell stood by his ruling, which is being appealed in the Tenth Circuit, even after Giles and Capps became members of the tribal town that has less than 450 members. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation was once a confederacy of tribal towns, whose members are Creeks.
Alexander said the Kialegees would not be shut out of the casino proposal, however. They are part of The Red Clay Group, but it is not clear what the tribal town would receive.
"I'm sure it's not going to be very much," Alexander said.
According to the proposal, the landowners would have the option to sell the five-acre site to the tribe for $5 million. The Red Clay Group would reimburse the tribe if the purchase took place before the sixth year of the agreement.
Alexander said he wonders why the proposal is being introduced again after already being defeated in committee.
"We've got so much other stuff going on. I don't see any traction," he said.
Alexander has said the issue first arose before the Kialegees were involved in 2006 when Giles brought it to then Chief A.D. Ellis and the National Council. "I got a short and sweet answer," Alexander said. "They weren't interested."
It was for business reasons, he said. Their loan agreement for the River Spirit Casino in Tulsa required the tribe to not have another casino within 50 miles. River Spirit and the envisioned Red Clay Casino are only about 10 miles apart, and tribal members thought that the tribe would be competing with itself, Alexander said.
But Alexander said there could be a way around the loan agreement if they dedicate revenues from the Red Clay Casino to the River Spirit loan.
Alexander said the loan is due in February but could be extended a year and that the tribe is in the process of hiring an architect to build a hotel at River Spirit.
The developers estimate less than a one-to-two percent impact on River Spirit and the Hard Rock Casino. They describe Red Clay as being a much smaller venue with 375 machines and a sports bar that would attract mostly patrons from Broken Arrow and Coweta.
If the tribe decides to operate a casino in Broken Arrow, Alexander fully expects the Broken Arrow Citizens Against Neighborhood Gaming to launch another opposition effort.
Alexander said the tribe's purchase of RiverWalk Crossing in Jenks and assuming the naming rights of the exposition building at the fairgrounds are all positive things the tribe is trying to do in the area.
"We feel like we made some progress in getting a business relationship in Tulsa," Alexander said. "The idea of bringing up something that could be negative flies in the face of what Chief (George) Tiger and I have been trying to do for the past year. "That thing was so ugly nine months ago. It's just almost counter-productive to the effort we've made in trying to build relationships.
"I hope it dies a quiet death."
Jared Cawley, spokesman for the Broken Arrow Citizens Against Neighborhood Gaming, said they are not surprised by the landowners' and developers' repeated attempts to move forward with the project even though the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs and National Indian Gaming Commission and the federal courts have ruled against it.
"Our friends and sources within the tribe tell us that many of the tribal members do not think the tribe should take on this project, either," Cawley said. "But our information is that the developers have been wining and dining the individual legislative committee members and have again convinced them to vote on the matter."
Cawley said they will ask that the National Council deny the latest request if it passes committee.
"We have over 10,000 signatures from citizens, who are neighbors and friends of the tribe, who do not want this illegal, adult-oriented business next to their homes, schools and churches," he said.
Original Print Headline: Casino plan may have new life
Susan Hylton 918-581-8381
Sam Alexander: The National Council Speaker says it hasn't been presented to tribal leaders