Skip to content

OKC Voters Support Horse Shows With Landslide Victory

The December 14th landslide approval by Oklahoma City voters to increase the hotel/motel occupancy tax has ensured Oklahoma City will have the world-class facilities befitting the "Horse Show Capital of the World." The vote passed by an historic margin of 89%. Raising the current hotel/motel occupancy tax from 2% to 5.5% is estimated to generate $4.5 million annually, which will be dedicated to funding an estimated $55 million in proposed improvements to the horse show facilities at State Fair Park.

"First and foremost, I want to thank the people of Oklahoma City for supporting this issue. They are making an investment in their community that will reap great rewards for our city," said Mayor Mick Cornett, chair of the Committee to Improve OKC's Horse Show Facilities. "And, as they have done so many times before, Oklahoma City individuals and businesses also stepped up to the plate to lend their financial support and their time to the "VOTE YES" campaign. We are so fortunate to have a city full of citizens who are engaged and committed to making this a better place to live and visit. They understand the big picture of economic development."

"The city-owned horse show facilities at State Fair Park were built beginning in the 1950s. Although they have received regular maintenance and some improvements throughout the years, the funding was not available for significant updates and renovations," said Oklahoma State Fair, Inc. President and General Manager Tim O'Toole. "Competition from cities like Tulsa, Fort Worth, Dallas, Denver and Las Vegas is mounting," O'Toole explained. "One of our biggest challenges is to bring our facilities up to those standards so that we can continue the success that's been established over the last 20 years. These planned renovations - which really will result in a total remodel of the venue - will not only give us a better chance at keeping the events we already have, but will help us attract even more."

O'Toole said upgraded facilities have the potential of drawing shows from horse groups not currently coming to Oklahoma City, as well as additional competitions from organizations that are already coming here. Many of the national and international sanctioning groups that sponsor the horse shows are growing and adding additional events, including qualifying rounds and special contests for senior and youth competitors. The rising number of competitive shows provides an opportunity for Oklahoma City to increase its horse show revenue even more.

Annually, Oklahoma City's 15 major horse shows generate more than $180 million in revenue and support 3,600 jobs. State Fair Park's west side, which includes the arena and nine barns, will benefit from major renovations funded by the hotel/motel occupancy tax increase. The first step will be to tear down All Sports Stadium to expand parking. O'Toole anticipates this would happen in early 2005.

"Service parking is a key component of what we have to offer our equine customers and our livestock business," O'Toole said. "We will be able to expand that parking to accommodate even more livestock trailers."

The proposed renovations will answer the needs expressed by the groups using the facilities by providing new stalls, improved warm-up areas for competitors, and an expanded concession area, a separate sales arena, new barns and upgrades to the arena, such as new lighting, sound and seating improvements, a cattle return lane, a livestock holding area, a pedestrian walkway, a show office and a media control room.

"This has truly been a joint effort among the people in this industry to come up with a plan that will provide a funding mechanism everyone supports. It's a real partnership with the hotel/motel industry, horse show organizers, the business community and the people of Oklahoma City. That's why it works," said Mayor Cornett.

More Stories

  • Bobbie Jo Jaakkola Wins AMHA Young Adult Alliance Judging School Scholarship

    The American Morgan Horse Association Young Adult Alliance (YAA) presented their fifth annual Judging School Scholarship to Bobbie Jo Jaakkola of Northwell, Michigan. The Professional Development Project created by this passionate group awards a $1,500 scholarship to one individual aged 21-40, professional or amateur, who is interested in attaining their Morgan R judging card. Read More
  • Spring Fling Horse Show to debut in its new location of the Equestrian Center at Kirkwood in Cedar Rapids, IA, April 5-8, 2018

    Spring Fling Horse Show to debut in its new location of the Equestrian Center at Kirkwood in Cedar Rapids, IA, April 5-8, 2018... Read More
  • Des Moines Springfest announces location

    The Des Moines Springfest Horse Show is scheduled for April 26 – 29, 2018.   We are pleased to announce the show will be held in the beautiful, state of the art Jacobson Arena at the Iowa State Fairground, Des Moines, IA. Read More
  • Coming Home Again

    Kevin Michael made a triumphant return to the show ring at Carousel Charity Horse Show Friday morning behind the elegant and high-stepping Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony CH Heartland Resplendant owned by Sandra Surber of Calistoga, California. Read More
  • ASHA Seeks Executive Director

    The American Saddlebred Horse Assocation (ASHA) is currently seeking to hire its next Executive Director. Founded in 1871, the ASHA’s mission is to safeguard the integrity of the American Saddlebred breed, to promote the use of American Saddlebreds, and to expand the public knowledge of the American Saddlebred.  Read More
  • Prize Lists Available for Asheville Saddlebred Classic

    The inaugural Asheville Saddlebred Classic is fast approaching and prize lists are now available at The entries closing date is April 20th and entries can be submitted online until that date. Hard copies of the prize list are available upon request... Read More
  • Blue Ribbon Opening

    Read More
  • Hall of Famer Dies

    Ronald E. “Ronnie” Graham passed away on Tuesday, March 13, during the Gasparilla Charity Horse Show. The horse world mourns the loss of this talented trainer, astute ground man, and friend to all. The recipient of the 2015 UPHA Tom Moore Professional Horsemen’s Hall of Fame Award, Ronnie was the first to lend a hand to those in need... Read More
  • Royal Crest's Mister Stone Now Being Offered For Your Consideration

    Consistently in the ribbons, this wonderful gelding has proven to be an absolute star in whatever division he is entered in: Walk and Trot Equitation, Open English Pleasure, Junior Exhibitor Country Pleasure - he can do it all and he is ready for his next young rider! Direct inquires to Country Meadow Farm. Read More
  • HS Queen Of The Castle Now Being Offered For Your Consideration

    A lovely mare that will get you noticed! Shown successfully in Junior Exhibitor and Adult Show Pleasure and Park Pleasure with lots of wins to her credit. She is suitable for a more advanced rider - let her win for you! Direct Inquiries to Jennifer Dixon. Read More