POSTED ON DECEMBER 19, 2012:
What's the Creek Word for Leverage?
The value of naming rights for the Expo Center at Expo Square may be diminishing by the minute. A previously announced deal between the fairgrounds and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation fell apart after the revelation of a previously undisclosed agreement between Expo Square and two horse racing groups.
Racing advocates rejoiced at a Dec. 12 vote by the Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority to rescind a naming-rights agreement with the Creeks. That agreement specified the cessation of live racing as part of a $1.44 million yearly naming-rights deal for the Expo Center.
Horse racing enthusiasts get another year to try to boost attendance and make the case for continued racing in Tulsa. But county officials can't share that enthusiasm, as the move wiped out any chance of a short-term boost in revenue for the fairgrounds.
For the Creeks, it may be difficult to separate horse racing from the naming rights. They would apparently have come out ahead financially if live racing had ended at Fair Meadows because it would have eliminated financial obligations imposed as part of a complex gaming compact. When the Creek Nation first announced the naming rights deal, it was announced this way in a government statement: "MCN Naming Rights Agreement to Save Tribe $15 Million."
In that Nov. 7 statement, Principal Chief George Tiger said: "Before this agreement, the tribe was paying about $3.6 million a year under our gaming compact. Now we will only be paying $1.44 million a year and we get naming rights to the Expo Center."
At the Dec. 12 meeting, a 36-month deal was on the table, which would have reduced payments for naming rights to $11,666.67 monthly -- about $140,000 yearly. That's not only less than $1.44 million, but also less than the approximately $230,000 paid yearly by the previous holder of naming rights, QuikTrip.
But at the meeting, Tiger asked the fair board to delay any vote on the $140,000 deal, explaining that he needed to go back to seek an appropriation from the Muscogee (Creek) Nation governing body.
At the meeting, he told horse racing advocates that his focus is solely on naming rights, not on ending horse racing. But the Creeks and the county will likely have to negotiate exactly what those rights are worth without the Creeks realizing any savings. With a long-term deal involving horse racing still a possibility after the 2013 racing season, it would also seem unlikely that any other company or organization would step forward with a proposal for a short-term naming rights deal.
The original agreement with the Creek Nation gave the group an exclusive two-year window to come up with a proposal for the old Drillers Stadium. The draft deal at the Dec. 12 meeting did not mention Drillers Stadium, so the future of that site also remains unclear.
@FakeDeweyTulsa Enjoying the Limelight.
The Twitter account that parodies Mayor Dewey Bartlett continues to release perpetually over-excited messages, now with a raised profile after news coverage from UTW as well as in The Tulsa World, where the real Dewey Bartlett admitted that he knows about the fake account.
@FakeDeweyTulsa actually only has 165 followers (last week, UTW confused followers with those accounts being followed by @FakeDeweyTulsa), but the group includes some influential real-life Tulsans, including city councilors Blake Ewing and G.T. Bynum.
Among recent messages, @FakeDeweyTulsa shares way too much enthusiasm about his entirely fictional rock band, Water in the River, and promises to bring "giant scissors" to a (presumably) fake ribbon-cutting at Ewing's newest business venture, The Phoenix Café.
Hardesty Arts Center Opens.
Doors to the public were officially opened Dec. 16 at the new Hardesty Arts Center in the Brady Arts District.
The 42,000-square-foot project, first championed in 2003 by the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa, truly became a reality after voters in 2006 approved the Third Penny sales tax extension. It bears the Hardesty name after a $2.65 million donation from the Hardesty Family Foundation.
The roughly $18.3 million center, located at 101 E. Archer St., features space for working artists and galleries, as well as various arts education programs. For information about hours and events, visit ahct.org.
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