Fairgrounds Work Races The Clock

Friday, May 9th 2008, 7:05 pm
By: News On 6

Tulsa County faces a deadline to finish several major construction jobs at the fairgrounds.  It all has to be done by the time of the Tulsa State Fair this fall, and every rainy day is a setback.  The News On 6's Emory Bryan reports it's Tulsa County Commissioner John Smaligo's job to make sure everything is ready.

"Absolutely, it will be done," said Commissioner John Smaligo.

There's plenty to do.  The midway is bare dirt while the county levels it out and installs underground power lines.  Workers are roofing the new Exchange Center after several delays because of the wind.  Both jobs are critical for the Tulsa State Fair, and for the Arabian Horse Show that starts five days after the fair ends.

"This is the largest horse show in North America.  It is the Superbowl of horse shows," said Commissioner John Smaligo.

It was already going to be a challenge to get the fairgrounds ready to house 3,000 horses.  Tulsa lured the show here with a promise that all the projects would be done.

There's a $10 million new Exchange Center, a $7.5 million renovation of the midway, the Armory renovation for $6 million dollars and a $2.5 million storage building behind the Expo Pavilion.

Once the current projects are done, the fair board will turn its attention to the east end of the fairgrounds, especially if the Tulsa Drillers decide to move downtown.

"The Drillers are the big question mark about what will happen with them." ," said Commissioner John Smaligo.

But for now, the attention is on construction:  roofing the Pavilion storage building, and converting the Armory to a kitchen and banquet hall.

It's the only job underway that the county says won't be done by the fair, but Smaligo says both the horse show and state fair have other options.