By Kyle Dierking, The News On 6 Sports
Tulsa, OK - Negotiations between the Tulsa Talons arena football team and the BOK Center continue to get tense.
The Talons approached the BOK Center about renegotiating its lease agreement on August 19th, according to a statement released by the BOK Center. During that time, the Talons franchise talked with the BOK Center, City of Tulsa and the Tulsa Metro Chamber of Commerce about the team possibly joining a new arena football league.
The Talons asked that rental rate for the BOK Center be cut in half, from $15,000 per game to $7,500.
BOK Center officials counter-offered the proposal on Monday evening, offering a deal that reduced rent payments as ticket sales increased.
"As a facility we have to look at what is fair for all teams. It's hard for us to say, ‘this team is more important than other teams,'" said BOK Center General Manager John Bolton. "We had to try and create a level of integrity with our other teams."
Talons owner Henry Primeaux was displeased when reports leaked late Monday evening that the franchise may relocate to San Antonio as a part of a new arena league.
"I can tell you one thing, I did not call anybody and the people in San Antonio called me," Primeaux said. "That's the first thing I heard this morning, ‘did you call San Antonio?' No I didn't call San Antonio."
"Everything was done on a total confidentiality agreement. Only three people didn't sign it. The three people who signed it, I figured they were honorable, well, one of them is not."
Primeaux has since removed himself from negotiations with the BOK Center and will leave it up to his partners to continue discussions with SMG, the group that manages the BOK Center.
"I've been around 20 years, the guy you're talking about (Bolton) has been here a year and a half," Primeaux said. "When SMG was brought here, we played a very big role in bringing them here - probably the biggest mistake I've made, but that's just me."
"As an owner I'm disappointed, but I'm not sure I'm going to be an owner that long. With everything that's on the table, I have to do what I have to do."
Primeaux was also irritated by the BOK Center's media release that detailed some of the negotiations the Talons were having with the arena as well as revenue stream from the Talons' season at the BOK Center.
"I understand (Bolton) was not advised to put this out, but did it anyway," Primeaux said. "This kind of summarizes everything that's untrue about our negotiations and full of half-truths."
"The team has a good success story here. It's important that the people of Tulsa know what the issues are surrounding this team," Bolton said.
For now the agreement remains unresolved.
"The problem is when you're dealing with someone like that and they go to the media rather than going to you, it becomes very difficult," Bolton said.
"It's a shame it is and he put it there," Primeaux said. "I'm sorry that is has to go through the media. The media's made this what they want to make it."
According to the BOK Center news release, Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor believes the Talons are a great asset to the City of Tulsa.
"We enjoy our relationship with the Talons and cherish their success this past season. We also wish them continued success. There is absolutely no truth whatsoever that the City is trying to push Henry out of the BOK Center. We welcome as many events as possible in the BOK Center. The WNBA team, if it becomes a reality in Tulsa, will also add to the success of this new Arena. We are hopeful that a WNBA franchise for Tulsa will indeed happen," said Mayor Kathy Taylor.
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