View Full Version : Last one out, turn off the lights...Drillers look to be headed south

08-21-2007, 08:10 AM
Tulsa World (

JENKS -- The River District, a proposed $1 billion attraction on the west bank of the Arkansas River in Jenks, could also become the new home for the Tulsa Drillers.

The ball club's president, Chuck Lamson, said Monday the franchise had signed a nonbinding letter of intent with the River District Development Group to create a 7,000-seat ballpark within the 300-acre, multifaceted venue.

Lynn Mitchell, the development group's president, said: "The Tulsa Drillers, just like retailers, have to look at what's best for their particular business plan. This would ensure the Drillers see success with their franchise with this mix of retail, restaurant, housing and office. We're surrounding the Drillers with the elements that are necessary for success."

The development would feature an assortment of restaurants and cafes and 852,000 square feet of retail shops.

In comparison, Tulsa's Woodland Hills Mall is a 1.2 million-square-foot shopping center.

Mitchell said the developers plan to take the best of the best from designs
across the country to create an urban village in the suburb.

"Our goal is to bring in retailers that don't have a presence in Tulsa or Oklahoma at all," he said.

Other amenities would include a town square, 400,000 square feet of office space, 300 condominiums overlooking an 80-acre lake, 650 hotel rooms, a small convention hall and plenty of green space along more than a mile of Arkansas River frontage.

The River District Development Group consists of the Tulsa businessmen Jerry Ledford Jr., Julius Puma and Mitchell, along with two new partners, Mike Krimbill, the former president and former general counsel of Energy Transfer Partners, and Bob Burk, the former chief counsel of Energy Transfer Partners.

"We're a group of entrepreneurs and investors who have pulled the best design groups and leasing firms together, and we just have a vision we want to see come to life," Mitchell said.

The group has hired Development Design Group, a Baltimore firm that created the National Harbor in Prince George's County, Md., he said.

The Oklahoma City Bricktown developer Randy Hogan was an initial design consultant for the group when the project was announced in April.

Wet Labs, a California company that designs water fountains choreographed to music, has been hired to create a performance lake. The company's dancing fountains are featured at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.

For the Drillers, The River District is "a very exciting project," Lamson said. "They approached us, and we're interested in exploring it further."

Although Lamson said nothing is final and that the baseball club hasn't ruled out other locations, including downtown Tulsa, the owners should have something more definite to say about the Jenks site within the next month or two as they work out lease details.

They would keep the Tulsa Drillers name, Lamson said.

"The Dallas Cowboys are still the Dallas Cowboys, and they're (building a stadium) in Arlington, sɐxǝʇ," he said. The team now plays in a stadium in Irving, sɐxǝʇ.

The Drillers' contract with Expo Square, the site of Drillers Stadium, expires Sept. 30, 2009.

"This would not come online or be ready to go until the 2010 season," Lamson said.

Drillers Stadium has 11,000 seats -- which is actually too many, Lamson said. The Jenks site would have 7,000 seats with extra room for more hospitality and features that would make it a state-of-the-art ballpark as well as a destination point, with plenty of things to do before and after the game, he said.

"We want a place that would be safe, where people would be comfortable walking around with their families," Lamson said. "We're looking toward what's best for our franchise and fans. This is a very exciting and viable option for us."

Although the team might be leaving midtown Tulsa, Lamson doesn't see it as leaving Tulsa.

"We're still in Tulsa County. We're still going to benefit the Tulsa area in terms of economic development and the Tulsa landscape," he said. "People that have the parochial view that moving to Jenks is negative for Tulsa -- I don't agree with that."

Mitchell also said the fact that the development will be in Jenks is incidental.

He said the location had more to do with its 74037 ZIP code than anything else.

"That tract of land sits right in the middle of the highest per capita income in the state of Oklahoma," he said.

It passed national retailers' tests of income, population and education level, he said.

A Washington development firm announced in August 2006 that it was buying land in eastern downtown Tulsa, north of Home Depot, to create a mixed-use, urban environment that would include a baseball stadium for the Drillers.

But in March, another developer acquired purchase options on the land that would have been the ballpark's site and announced plans to build a Wal-Mart Supercenter in a mixed-use development project there.

Lamson confirmed last month that he had been talking to Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor and her economic development director, Don Himelfarb, about relocating Drillers Stadium to another downtown site or to the west bank of the Arkansas River south of the 21st Street Bridge.

However, he said, access on the west bank in that area was a concern. The Jenks site, which is also on the west side of the river, abuts the Creek Turnpike, which connects to Riverside Parkway and U.S. 75.

Mitchell said he supported the $393 million county pubic-private initiative to start work on the Arkansas River corridor plan, but The River District is a solely private investment.

"We're not asking to raise any taxes or do any kind of bonding issues. We believe it needs to be a private investment," he said.

Once the development is performing to a certain standard, Mitchell said, developers could discuss with Jenks officials a rebate on infrastructure costs or a tax increment financing district, in which a certain amount of tax dollars collected at the site is reinvested in the development.

"But we're not asking Jenks to come forward with any money" to develop the project, he said.

Construction could start within the first quarter of next year.

08-21-2007, 10:17 AM
The Oklahoma City Bricktown developer Randy Hogan was an initial design consultant for the group when the project was announced in April.

Screwed. Grab ur ankles and get ready for a stucco *****.

08-21-2007, 11:23 AM
im from tulsa - this kinda sucks, like so many things in oklahoma/texas they leave the city and just build new ones out in the suburbs. the 21st and sheridan area is a very centrally located area with the centinial plaza(that they re did from a struggling mall that was close to demolition), big splash, fair grounds and race track.

granted we sit here with a nice new stadium down town(that i frequent almost weekly for redhawks games), but why dont they spend the money to re-furb the stadium or build it downtown. we always complain that tulsa/okc has no real culture/history/soul...well thats because anything with a few years old thats no longer located in a prime area should be torn down and built up bigger in the suburbs.

08-21-2007, 01:02 PM
Screwed. Grab ur ankles and get ready for a stucco *****.

Yeah , but it will be a LIGHT stucco, suitable for an entertainment area. Besides think of all the rude jokes we have to endure about a "brick prick."!!!