Horse shows looking at Tulsa's 'Vision' plan

Thursday, July 10th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Sales tax under the ‘Vision’ plan could cost you more starting next year. A one-cent sales tax is on the ballot to pay for a number of Vision projects similar to the one made over the last few years at the fairgrounds.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says the Tulsa County Fairgrounds is just about always busy with horse shows.

The county is hoping the world's most prestigious show will come here in 2006. It's a possibility that would not been considered before voters approved a tax to improve the fairgrounds. Nearly a thousand horses from all over the world are in Tulsa for the next week.

The Palomino Horse Breeders Association chose Tulsa as home in 1980 - but was close to leaving two years ago. Cindy Chilton with the Palomino Horse Breeders Association: "because of the mere fact that the facilities had not been upgraded, so the renovations were critical for us." The renovations that kept the Palomino's coming are attracting other shows. Every one of them attracts thousands of people. The RV park at the fairgrounds is almost always full.

Fairgrounds Manager Denny Tuttle says the taxpayers $41-million investment here pays off every weekend. "The benefit to our community is 3,000 people staying for 9 days, it's estimated they’ll spend $3-4 million in our community.”

The previous county sales tax paid to build new barns - and an air-conditioned arena. Other taxes paid to renovate the pavilion. They want to continue making improvements with $40 million dollars in the vision package.

Right now Tulsa can host a show with about 1,600 horses, but the improvements under the vision plan would double that space allowing Tulsa to go after the largest horse shows in the nation. The plan is to replace the 40-year-old flea market building with a new one. They want to enclose the underside of the horse track grandstand to create another exhibit hall.

And they'll add more landscaping that picks up where "4 To Fix The County" leaves off. “We've also proposed a couple of parking decks, which will add 1,000 spots to our property and they're multiple use, we can stall horses in there if we need to.

The emphasis on building to accommodate horses is to attract even more big horse shows like the Palomino show. The World Arabian horse show is looking for a new home - and Tulsa is in the running. Tulsa's chances would likely improve if the vision package passes.