Chili Bowl Looks For Chamber Support

Thursday, January 15th 2009, 5:32 pm
By: News On 6

By Jeffrey Smith, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Tens of thousands of dollars are getting pumped into the City of Tulsa's coffers this week.

It comes from an event that hasn't had to pay a dime in city taxes for decades.  But, the city's decision to annex Expo Square is changing that.

The Chili Bowl promoters say dirt-track racing is a recession-proof business.  And, the promoters say because they're doing so well economically.  They'd like to see some extra support from the city.

"If you're a spectator, when they fly from foreign countries to come here, that ought to tell you all a person needs to know about the quality of the racing," said Chili Bowl Promoter Emmett Hahn.

Emmett Hahn says the Chili Bowl gets bigger every year and this year's turnout is the biggest ever with 294 registered racers.  Compare that to 279 two years ago or 250 racers four years ago.

"Tulsa is centrally located.  It's an affordable market.  And, it's easy for people to come here and visit," said Mike Dodson with the Tulsa Sports Commission.

But, new this year, the Chili Bowl has to pay the city's sales tax.  The 7,200 fans paid $185 for a weeklong racing pass.  That amounts to more than $1.3 million.  Tulsa's taking a 3% cut from the sales tax. 

Hahn says given the historic turnout, he'd like to see some advertising from the Tulsa Metro Chamber of Commerce.

"When I see some venues that don't bring near this kind of money into town that gets maybe twice the press that we get, you just wonder why," said Chili Bowl Promoter Emmett Hahn.

The chamber says revenue from the sales taxes doesn't get pumped back into the fairgrounds for promotion.

"That money's not just being spent at the fairgrounds, its spent all over town.  So it's a win-win for the city and the county," said Mike Dodson with the Tulsa Sports Commission.

A win-win and a lot of money coming from an event that draws fans from all over the world.    

The Tulsa Sports Commission says this event brings millions of dollars into Tulsa's economy when you add up hotel fees, rental cars, eating out at restaurants, and shopping.

The Chili Bowl Championship Race is Saturday night.