Downtown Ready To Be A Major Player

Friday, April 4th 2008, 6:40 pm
By: News On 6

At the start of baseball season, downtown Tulsa becomes a player in minor league baseball.  The News On 6's Emory Bryan has word that the deal to move the Drillers downtown is further along than the city will admit.

No announcement has come from the city or the Drillers, but sources tell The News On 6 the city has made the deal with the team, and it won't require a tax increase that would go before voters.

Downtown Tulsa appears to have hit a home run with word from a knowledgeable source that the plan to move the Tulsa Drillers downtown is a done deal.  Neither the Drillers nor the city would confirm anything on their negotiations, but the mayor's office would say the financing of the deal is not done.

Mayor Kathy Taylor writes in a statement that, "We don't have the funding plans completed yet.  At this point we do not anticipate funding which would require a vote of the people."

That's a change from the idea to partially pay for the stadium by raising the hotel-motel tax.

The lodging industry was against that and urged the mayor to find private funding for the deal which is what our source says has happened.

The Drillers want a new stadium with 6,000 permanent seats and room for 5,000 people in suites and picnic areas.

In January, Mayor Taylor announced she had an agreement with the Drillers, giving the city until May 30th to make the deal.

Drillers President Chuck Lamson said on Friday that he could not comment on the status of their negotiations, which he described only as "a work in progress."

The land under consideration was under contract for a Wal-Mart SuperCenter development, which fell through.  That contract was signed over the city and now more land just north of 4th Street, is also being considered as part development around the stadium.

The block just southeast of 4th and Frankfort is also part of the deal, though tenants on that property have not been told when they'll need to move out.

The new stadium will be a significant upgrade for the team, replacing the current field with a modern ballpark with a view of downtown.

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