View Full Version : Funds approved for new Tulsa Drillers ballpark

07-11-2008, 10:04 AM
The Associated Press

TULSA (AP) - The Tulsa Drillers are a step closer to getting a new $60 million stadium here after city councilors voted to renew and increase the rate of a downtown assessment district to fund it.

"This represents the best of Tulsa — the leadership of the council, the community leadership all planting seeds for the next generation of Tulsans," Mayor Kathy Taylor said of Thursday's 6-3 vote. "This fall a new ballpark will be under construction, and in 2010, our Tulsa Drillers will be playing in a new ballpark in downtown Tulsa," she said.

Taylor has said approval of the assessment district is essential to completing the city's contract with Drillers owner Chuck Lamson.

The deadline for exclusive negotiating rights with the Drillers ends Tuesday. After that, the Colorado Rockies' Double-A affiliate could seek an alternate site for a new stadium, including in suburban Jenks.

The measure passed with an amendment clarifying that a trust that will be created to oversee the ballpark and its finances can't incur debt for which the city would be liable.

The estimated $60 million stadium is proposed to be placed in the historic Greenwood District, once known as Black Wall Street and the site of the 1921 Tulsa race riots.

Private donors, including mayor Taylor and her husband, will provide $30 million of the funding; $25 million will come from the assessment district; and $5 million will come from the Drillers' lease of the new facility.

Other private donors, who have given $100,000 to more than $7.5 million, include the George Kaiser Family Foundation, Warren Foundation, Bank of Oklahoma, and Oneok, according to responses to 30 questions submitted by City Councilor Bill Martinson about ballpark details and financing.

The response to the question about donors noted that some asked to remain anonymous, and omits specific donation amounts.

07-11-2008, 02:29 PM
Good news for Tulsa! I hope they have as much good fortune as we have with The Brick.

07-11-2008, 03:25 PM
It's about dang time Tulsa does something right. I'm glad to see your city finally making a step in the right direction, especially with revitalizing your downtown and not supporting Jenks.

sgt. pepper
07-14-2008, 09:32 AM
i think it's kinda of funny that the mayor of tulsa is donating her own money to a city project like this. i guess tulsa is in worst shap than i thought. they cant get anything built unless the city leaders donate there own money. i wonder how much better the ford center could be if okc mayor mick donates 30 million to it's renovation?

07-14-2008, 10:21 AM
i think it's kinda of funny that the mayor of tulsa is donating her own money to a city project like this. i guess tulsa is in worst shap than i thought. they cant get anything built unless the city leaders donate there own money. i wonder how much better the ford center could be if okc mayor mick donates 30 million to it's renovation?

Well, the mayor didn't donate all of that $30 mil, but I think it's a great model of "leadership by example". This kind of thing is important for Tulsa because, after the success of the new Driller's stadium, residents might see the benefit of taxing for future thought-out developments. I hope this kickstarts a renaissance in Tulsa, similar to that of OKC's.

07-14-2008, 10:57 AM
Are there any renderings of what it's going to look like?

07-14-2008, 11:44 AM
Really glad to see this happening downtown rather than the suburbs.

Downtown Tulsa seems to have a lot of positive momentum.

07-15-2008, 07:27 AM
Property owners challenge Tulsa ballpark plan
Journal Record
July 15, 2008

TULSA – A group of downtown Tulsa property owners hopes to block a property levy they say burdens them with construction of the proposed $60 million Tulsa Drillers baseball park.

As with other such legal challenges, Tulsa City Attorney Deirdre Dexter said the city will move forward with the Tulsa Stadium Improvement District No. 1, created Thursday night by the Tulsa City Council.

E & F Cox Family Trust, Denver Building LLC, Michael Samara, T.E. Morlan, and Better Price Warehouse Sales Co. filed their lawsuit Friday in the Tulsa County District Court seeking to void the district. That council move would extend a special assessment district due to expire June 30, nearly doubling the top assessed rate to 6.5 cents per square foot on land and structures. For other properties that 6.5-cent level proves a much greater hurdle, since the current rate ranges from .01 cent to 3.5 cents, based on the property’s proximity to that assessment’s original target, downtown Tulsa’s “Main Mall” pedestrian-friendly commercial area. That mall was effectively ended with the adoption of two-way streets through the district in 2004, although the collections continued.“The assessments made after the removal of the pedestrian mall were and continue to be void, and unlawful,” the filing by attorney Kent Morlan claimed.Dexter disagreed, pointing to a 1999 assessment definition that made no reference to the Main Mall.“It provides to services, not downtown,” she said.

In adapting the assessment district to construction of a ballpark, a building not intended for the use or benefit of the general public, the lawsuit claimed the city of Tulsa chose a type of construction not allowed under 11 O.S. 39-103. While that statute outlines a number of infrastructure uses assessments funds may construct and improve, such as streetlights or sewer systems, the law states districts may only be used for improvements of parks, playgrounds and recreation facilities, not construction.“Well, what’s a baseball stadium?” said Morlan. “Doesn’t that argue that the Legislature didn’t want cities to build ballparks, stadiums and such?”Dexter disagreed, saying the statutes allow an assessment district to be used “without limitation because of enumeration.”“I think it would have to be at least within the same sorts of things that are listed,” she said. “That’s for the court to decide.”Morlan clung to the wording.“The city has to argue that that provision swallows up the whole,” said Morlan, who worked in the city attorney’s office in 1976. “My argument is: no, no, no. If the Legislature says they can only improve recreation facilities, they can only improve recreation facilities.”Morlan even suggested a legal out, that the city could have first declared the land a public park, and then announced plans to improve it by building a stadium. “But they didn’t do that,” he said.The lawsuit claimed the city’s intent to provide unspecified maintenance and services to an unidentified public improvement violates 11 O.S. 39-103.1.

Downtown property owners also will not benefit from construction and operation of the ballpark, the lawsuit stated.In defending the lawsuit, Morlan acknowledged general sentiment embraced construction of a downtown stadium as a general benefit to the city. But he asked why a large part of the financial burden was placed on downtown property owners.He pointed to a 1981 addition to those assessment statutes allowing such funds to support maintenance, management, and even marketing for a district that confers “special benefits” upon properties in the district.

But he questioned what value a ballpark sitting at the edge of the Inner Dispersal Loop would bring to properties not within close proximity.Under the new district, Morlan said Mark Price would see the Better Price Warehouse Sales Co. annual assessment jump from $600 to $7,000. The Central Park Homeowners Association, where Morlan owns property, would see its annual assessment rise from $5,500 to $22,000.“The dilemma is the city of Tulsa has no resources to build a stadium and the people of Tulsa will not tax themselves to build it,” said Morlan. “The third-penny sales tax is already exhausted or isn’t available.

So how do you fund another improvement to downtown?”While the short-term hikes leave a sharp sting, Morlan said he fears that city leaders could expand such interpretation of the “without limitation” outlet to fund or assess anything. That’s why the lawsuit asks the court to restrain the city from seeking other such agreements.“There’s no limitation to what you can do if you can do this without enumeration,” he said. “They could have built the BOK Center because of an assessment.”

07-15-2008, 07:35 AM
Why does a few always want to ruin it for everyone?

08-19-2008, 12:03 PM
What is the latest on this?

01-12-2009, 03:30 PM
TULSA — The new downtown Tulsa baseball stadium will be named ONEOK Field, city and ONEOK corporate officials announced Monday.

ONEOK Inc. and the ONEOK Foundation pledged $5 million to secure 20-year naming rights to the stadium, which will be the future home of the Tulsa Drillers. The Drillers are Tulsa’s Double-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies Major League Baseball team.

The stadium is scheduled for completion prior to the 2010 baseball season.

“With this investment, we are reinforcing our strong commitment to Tulsa and its downtown,” said John W. Gibson, chief executive officer of ONEOK.

“A vibrant downtown is key to our ability to attract and retain the employees we need today and in the future to continue our company’s success,” he said. “Last year, we acquired ONEOK Plaza, our downtown office building, and now, with the new baseball field, we can help with the continued redevelopment of downtown Tulsa and the revitalization of the historic Greenwood District.”

The $60 million ballpark project includes construction of the stadium and acquisition of surrounding land for mixed-use redevelopment.

It will be located directly west of the historic Greenwood District and adjacent to the Brady and Blue Dome entertainment districts.

The ballpark will be owned by the Tulsa Stadium Trust, which is a public trust that has the city of Tulsa as its sole beneficiary.

Construction of the field and redevelopment of the surrounding area began in 2008. It is being funded through $30 million in private donations, $25 million in fees to be generated over 30 years from a downtown property assessment district and $5 million from the Driller’s lease.

01-12-2009, 04:06 PM
Some people are never happy, it's progress, if you don't like it, move!!!!!

01-13-2009, 01:26 PM
Some people are never happy, it's progress, if you don't like it, move!!!!!

What are you talking about?

01-18-2009, 05:05 PM
I think he's talking about the people that are suing to stop it from being constructed.

01-26-2009, 12:23 PM
I think he's talking about the people that are suing to stop it from being constructed.

Ah, ok. Thanks.

04-27-2009, 07:42 AM
Divided over future ballparkby Kirby Lee Davis

The Journal Record April 27, 2009

TULSA – Eleanor Roberts may tear down her two-story Fields-Down-Randolf Building. Marc Price may take the opposite path and add more brick and mortar.

That characterizes the division between downtown Tulsa property owners bracing for dramatically higher assessment fees coming in July, all to fund $25 million of the city’s $60 million Tulsa Drillers ballpark development.“I’m rather upset about it,” said Lester Springer, who expects to pay $5,600 on his 37,000 square feet of warehouse space. He paid $50 on the two buildings last year.

“It’s going to be a problem because my buildings actually are worth $100,000 less today than before they voted that in,” he said. “I’d like to sell it for a good price and get out of downtown Tulsa. The only thing that ballpark’s going to do for me is get in my way when I go down for work.”

Some executives embrace the tremendous hikes for what they will help deliver with the construction of a new magnet to regularly bring thousands of baseball, concert or other fans downtown when the ballpark opens in 2010.

“They need to understand that their city is moving forward in a positive manner which affects property values in a positive manner,” said Michael Sager, the developer of downtown’s Blue Dome district.

“I have property right up to the ballpark site,” Sager said. “And I have property about as far away as it can get. They both will benefit.”

Those struggling to maintain aging properties wonder where they’ll get the money, especially since many of those buildings are structurally deficient or empty.

“There’s quite a few of those that are fearful of speaking up, in fear of they’ll be retaliated in some way by city government,” said attorney Kent Morlan, who last year filed a legal challenge to the assessment with 14 other downtown property owners. “There are three or four that are coming in and contributing money to support the litigation but don’t want anybody to know that they’re doing it.”

Scheduled for a hearing last week, Tulsa County District Court Judge J. Michael Gassett postponed the case until the opposing attorneys could come together.

Morlan’s lawsuit proved just the first legal challenge to the July 2008 move by the Tulsa City Council and Mayor Kathy Taylor to support the ballpark, extending and increasing a three-decade-old special assessment district originally created to support downtown’s old “main mall” pedestrian area.

Tulsa County and the state of Oklahoma have challenged the fee, claiming their non-commercial properties would gain no benefit from the ballpark. This month the Oklahoma Senate approved a bill by state Sen. Randy Brogdon that would exempt nonprofit organizations, county and state properties from such assessment districts.

The Tulsa World speculated that could take $200,000 or more out of the ballpark fund.

Among property owners, much of the anguish comes not from the fee itself, but the changes made in extending a district that was to expire last summer.

Where that assessment included a graduated fee structure lowering rates the further properties stood from the mall area, the extended district applies the same 6.5-cent-per-square-foot rate to nearly all properties inside the inner dispersal loop.

Sager called that fairness. Others disagreed.

Price was assessed about $600 last year on his estimated 100,000 square feet of downtown land across 15 lots, seven of them with warehouses, all of them on the opposite side of downtown from the ballpark. He expects to pay $6,850 this year. And since the council approved a potential 4-percent annual increase in the fee, he anticipates paying more next year.

“It devaluates real estate,” he said. “I’ll receive no benefit from it whatsoever.”

As the manager of downtown Tulsa’s 90-percent occupied Mid-Continent Tower, an office building under court receivership, Terry Argue understands those concerns.

“I can pass those costs on through increased rents,” he said. “If you’re a little warehouse owner, you can’t do that. It hits everybody a little different.”

But like many other real estate executives, he expects the ballpark to raise downtown property values, and not just through “quality of life” enhancements.

“Anything that will revitalize downtown is good for Tulsa,” said Howard Wolf, a downtown Tulsa office broker with Sperry Van Ness William T. Strange and Associates. “It is my belief that the IDL assessment will come back several fold for the property owners.”

Sager said last year’s BOK Center opening has already proven that by spurring several new restaurant and residential projects that benefit all downtown businesses. As evidence, he pointed to Maurice Kanbar’s purchase of more than 15 downtown buildings four years ago, at a cost of $5 to $10 a square foot. Last year downtown’s 80-year-old ONG Building sold for $45.69 per square foot, while the 907 Detroit Building went for $19.60 per square foot.

Since the 93,000-square-foot Fields-Down-Randolf Building has been empty for eight years, it generates no revenue for Roberts to counter the increased assessment fees. Vandalized over the years by vagrants and copper thieves, it faces extensive repair and renovation costs, Roberts said.

Since the assessment is based on square footage of land and property, overlooking functionality, Morlan said, the district hits many property owners with increases unrelated to the economic viability of the building.

For the Fields-Down-Randolf building and Roberts’ neighboring half-block of empty land, that promises an assessment of more than $12,000, almost 200 times its year-ago amount.

“If you are a land-bank person who is trying to hold on to a property until the price is right one day, then you’ll feel the sting a bit,” said Sager.

Some analysts suggested such increases might be an underlying intent for the expanded district – to spur landowners to get to work on older, under-producing properties, either by sale or reinvestment. Some real estate professionals have discussed the need for such a program since 2003, when city and county leaders proposed the Vision 2025 arena within a cluster of older buildings.

“If so, that’s a gross abuse of power,” said Morlan.

Roberts said she is taking bids to tear down her building just in case she cannot sell it within three to six months. Removing the structure would lower her assessment fee to just the size of the land.

With his warehouses 100-percent occupied, Price intends to construct more space, the additional income expected to counter his increased costs.

“The net effect of this is to spur people to act,” said Sager. “I think it’s a mental stimulus.

“There are people who choose to hold assets and not be in business,” he said. “Maybe it’s time that a lot of absentee landowners get back in business.”

04-27-2009, 08:22 AM
I can understand being unhappy with 11-100x increases in your tax base. Sad to think a property makes more economic sense as a vacant lot after you demo a building

02-16-2010, 08:33 AM
Manhattan on schedule for Oneok Field construction
By D. Ray Tuttle
The Journal Record
Posted: 11:19 PM Monday, February 15, 2010

TULSA – Despite nearly 24 inches of snow and the worst winter in years, Manhattan Construction will turn over Oneok Field to the Tulsa Drillers on time Feb. 28, said Bob Jack, Manhattan Construction Co. project executive.

On Monday Chuck Lamson, Tulsa Drillers president, led a media tour of players’ facilities and discussed the upcoming season for the AA Drillers with manager Ron Gideon. Oneok Field, at 310 N. Elgin Ave. in downtown Tulsa’s historic Greenwood District, is the new home for the Tulsa Drillers.

About 7,000 tickets have sold for the home opener April 8 against Corpus Christi, Lamson said. Season ticket sales are up 56 percent from a year ago, from 1,600 to 2,500. Individual tickets are available for only the opening home stand. Individual tickets for the entire season go on sale March 15, he said.

While Lamson talked about spring and the next two months, Jack looked back on how tough the weather has been on construction since December.

“The weather has wreaked havoc with us,” Jack said. Standing in the 65-foot Drillers’ dugout, he said moisture has been a benefit and a hindrance.

“Good for the grass but we’ve had too much on the warning track,” Jack said. The track showed ruts where equipment appears to have driven over it. Jack was not concerned, however.

“Once the ground dries, the warning track will be leveled,” he said.

Manhattan Construction has spent 13 months taking a warehouse site and erecting a $60 million stadium capable of seating 9,000 people. Project financing comes through a partnership of public and private investment, including an assessment of property owners within the square-mile Inner Dispersal Loop. Estimates project the ballpark will generate $13 million in annual sales and $4 million in annual payroll. It is also expected to produce $450,000 in annual sales tax revenue, of which $160,000 will remain in Tulsa.

Despite the cold, wet conditions, Manhattan has kept about 100 workers at the site throughout construction.

“Sometimes more, sometimes less,” Jack said.

Jack promised last summer the project would be on time and he repeated that vow on Monday, adding that in addition to the stadium construction, Manhattan has been tasked with rebuilding the streets surrounding the ballpark. Using a mixture of concrete and asphalt, Manhattan is paving five city blocks in less than half the time it would normally take, Jack said.

“We have about two-and-a-half months to get it done when it usually takes five,” Jack said. Next month Manhattan will add more landscaping when it brings in brick, adds lighting to the sidewalks and puts in dozens of trees. The facility uses colors that blend into the surrounding buildings and gray metal that resembles the BOK Center.

“For a minor league facility this is pretty cool,” Jack said. “It will have some pizzazz about it.”

Manhattan on schedule for Oneok Field construction (

02-21-2010, 02:30 PM
Webcam view of ONEOK Field from last week. They are now finishing up the interior and streetscaping Elgin. If Tulsa ever moves up to AAA and they needs more seating capacity they will expand behind left field.

02-21-2010, 09:42 PM
hard to tell from that distance, but all in all, a decent looking plant.

02-21-2010, 10:32 PM
As long as it isn't a miniature version of the ball park at Arlington....not pointing any fingers but....

04-08-2010, 11:15 PM
When I saw pictures of this stadium today, I thought that it was something that was built 40 years ago. Am I the only one that thinks this? It reminds me of the old 89ers stadium at the fairgrounds in OKC.

04-09-2010, 07:51 AM
When I saw pictures of this stadium today, I thought that it was something that was built 40 years ago. Am I the only one that thinks this? It reminds me of the old 89ers stadium at the fairgrounds in OKC.

It's similar in size. The view is outstanding though.

04-09-2010, 02:17 PM
It's similar in size. The view is outstanding though. Ballpark in OKC is far superior!

04-09-2010, 03:52 PM
Ballpark in OKC is far superior!

A lot bigger but better? I'd say they are about the same in terms of amenities but the view in Tulsa is significantly better. If the Brick faced west it would be awesome.

04-09-2010, 10:33 PM
You can see OKC's skyline perfect from the 1st base line...