TULSA - Oklahoma horse enthusiasts took their concerns to the Tulsa County Fair Board Thursday about last month's decision to stop live horse racing at Fair Meadows.
The group says they were blindsided by the decision and didn't get a chance to voice their concerns about the plan.
In November, the board issued the decision on racing and gave naming rights to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation for what's currently the QuikTrip Center. The tribe is also expected to put in the first proposal for the old Drillers Stadium.
On Thursday, the board certified their earlier decision, officially ending horse racing at Fair Meadows, which has hosted Thoroughbread and Quarterhorse races since the 1980s, and approved the naming rights agreement.
After last months decision, County Commissioner and Fair Board Chairman Fred Perry said in the end it will make more financial sense for the property.
"The bottom line is Expo Square is $350,000 better off annually with this arrangement," said Perry.
In contrast, the group meeting with the Fair Board believes the state will lose big money since Oklahoma trainers are already talking about moving their horses out of state.
"Super bad deal, we've got no place to run our horses in the summer time," said one trainer.
But Perry says there are reasons for the decision.
"We like horse racing, but unfortunately since casino gambling has come about, as soon as that happened, those stands there, inside of in the '80s and '90s having thousands of people, had maybe 300 or 400," said Perry.
At Thursday's meeting, Perry told the packed room of horse trainers and owners that horse racing is a losing operation, but they disagreed, saying there have never been any studies making those claims.
The group said every racing event brings in a lot of revenue and the only improvements should be to customer service and promotion.
Commissioners took no questions or provided any answers, which frustrated the racing supporters, who say they've met with commissioners a number of times about how they can improve but they say their ideas have fallen on deaf ears.
2NEWS reporter Liz Bryant was in the meeting. Tonight at 5 and 6 Liz talks to supporters of the track.
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