OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The city will spend $17.2 million to build a store for Springfield, Mo.-based sports retailer Bass Pro Shops in the Bricktown entertainment district, City Council members decided Tuesday.
Local sports retailers had objected to the plan, saying it would put them at a business disadvantage and that it was a waste of money. Supporters of the deal say the city will recover the money through lease payments and increased sales tax revenue.
The City Council approved the deal by a 6-2 vote.
Mayor Kirk Humphreys said the store will spur much-needed economic development.
``There is a time for governments to act as a catalyst to make things happen,'' he said.
Councilman Mick Cornett said the elaborate store will attract tourists.
``We have never done an adequate job of getting people to pull off the interstate and spend some money,'' he said. ``Bass Pro address that head-on.''
Councilman Jerry Foshee, who voted against the plan, said it was unfair to existing retailers.
``I just don't think it is a level playing field,'' he said. ``As a matter of principle, I cannot support using tax dollars to hurt other retailers.''
Citizens Against Taxpayer Abuse, led by sporting goods retailers who would be competitors of Bass Pro, have started a drive to put a measure on the ballot that would require a vote of the public before the city could decide to provide financial incentives to a business.
The group would seek to make the measure retroactive to include the Bass Pro Shops decision, but city officials say this decision would not be affected because of constitutional protections against laws making past events illegal.