Muscogee Creek nation partners with Expo Square, signaling end to Tulsa horse racing

TULSA - Big changes are in store for the Tulsa fairgrounds.

The Muscogee Creek Nation is getting in the game, which means a new name for the QuikTrip Center and an end to a longstanding tradition.

"It allows us to use it as a blueprint, not only for Muscogee Creek Nation, but other tribal nations throughout the country," said Muscogee Creek Nation Chief George Tiger.

The tribe is excited about the opportunity to partner with Tulsa County. Officials with Expo Square and the Tulsa County Fair Board echo the sentiment.

"The bottom line is Expo Square is $250,000 better off annually with this arrangement," said Fred Perry, Tulsa County Commissioner and fair board chairman.

Under the new agreement between the Creek Nation and the Tulsa County fair board, the Creek Nation will pay annually to have the exclusive naming rights to what's now called the QuikTrip Center.

Come January, when Perry said the changes will take effect, the facility will go by a new name: the Muscogee Creek Nation Center.

They will also get to put in the first proposal for the old Drillers stadium, and  they are ending all live racing at the Fair Meadows track, which has been hosting Thoroughbred and quarter horse races since 1988.     

Perry says that decision comes down to money and low track turnout.

Since the introduction of casino gambling to the state, numbers have dwindled, Perry said.

Jim Brooks is a longtime trainer and regularly runs his horses at Fair Meadows.

"He set two track records there," said Brooks, referring to his horse, Oklahoma Natural.

Brooks, who has already started contacting his local lawmakers about getting this changed, says closing Fair Meadows will have a big impact on him and the Oklahoma racing industry.

"Everybody around here is shocked," Brooks said.
    
He says Oklahoma trainers split their time between Remington Park, Fair Meadows and Will Rogers Downs, depending on which track is in season. Losing Fair Meadows would leave a big gap, Brooks said.

"Super bad deal, we've got no place to run our horses in the summer time," he said.

So much so, Brooks said he expects horse racers to hang up the saddles or leave the Oklahoma altogether.

   

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