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Attempt to refinance Tulsa ballpark debt thwarted by foes

Tulsa DrillersAn attempt to refinances ONEOK Field debt has been blocked by opponents of the downtown assessment district paying down debt on the home of the Tulsa Drillers (Class AA; Texas League).

It is a unique situation, one that requires a little backstory. When it came time to pay for ONEOK Field, city officials set up a downtown assessment district, with downtown landowners paying additional fees for the facility. The theory: because a new ballpark would boost downtown property values, the downtown business should help pay for the ballpark.

Some property owners challenged the assessment as being unconstitutional, but they lost an initial court case and are appealing the decision. Meanwhile, the Tulsa Stadium Trust wants to refinance ballpark bonds, but because the matter is still in court, no refinancing is possible. That means some $14 million in savings won’t be realized on the refi — all because of an iffy lawsuit by ballpark opponents.

Oh, the ironies abound.


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