The spurned operator of the Oklahoma City Zoo Amphitheater is asking for an independent panel to review the selection of a two-month-old company to take over the concert venue.
Howard Pollack, chief executive officer of Facilities Management Group, is fighting to retain control of the amphitheater, 2011 NE 50, after operating it the past decade.
Pollock's complaints include the circumstances surrounding the selection of 3Horse Productions, a company that was formed just one day before proposals were due. He also questions the wording of the request for proposals issued by the Oklahoma City Zoological Trust, and the access competitors were given to his current contract.
A vote scheduled last month on the selection by the Oklahoma City Zoological Trust was delayed after zoo director Dwight Scott was challenged by The Oklahoman on the sealing of records requested under the Oklahoma Open Records Act.
Those records were later released and showed 3Horse Productions has ties to Remington Park and its owner, Global Gaming, a Chickasaw Nation subsidiary, that previously were not disclosed to the public or to several members of the zoological trust including Councilman Skip Kelly.
“I think it is incumbent on everybody to take a step back for a closer look at the situation,” Pollack said. “We have said since the beginning of this very odd procedure that we will gladly put our 10 years of hard work making the Zoo Amphitheater a nationally recognized entertainment venue against any potential bidder.”
The agenda item for the zoo trust's vote Wednesday on 3Horse Productions includes an independent review by the city's finance department director Craig Freeman, said Tara Henson, zoo spokeswoman.
In a June 11 letter distributed to zoo trustees, Freeman reported the solicitation and proposals were reviewed before any conversations with the selection panel led by Scott.
Freeman wrote the procedures and documents are “consistent with the city's purchasing policies and procedures” and that the partners in 3Horse Productions appear to be well qualified as operators.
Freeman stated questions did emerge about the “wide margin of scoring” between 3Horse and Facilities Management Group on a category entitled “understanding and collaboration with partners.”
He added those questions were satisfied after discussions with zoo officials, and that the collaboration score would not have changed the selection outcome.
Both vendors were told by Global Gaming officials before the proposal deadline that they could create promotional and operational agreements with Remington Park.
The 3Horse Productions proposal, however, provides far more detailed ties with the Chickasaw Nation-owned casino and racetrack.
When told of the Freeman letter, Pollack said the review does not match the independent evaluation he is seeking. He insisted the interviews led by Scott were skewed to favor 3Horse Productions.
“The problem I had is the selection committee was made up with subordinates,” Pollack said. “They get paid by Scott — they work for him. Why don't we have the mayor select a committee that is unbiased?”
Pollack said that an independent committee should look at the already-submitted proposals, create a series of standard questions to ask each vendor then make recommendations.
“There is a strong appearance here that this was a gerrymandered process from the very beginning, one that would replace our company with one with support from the Chickasaw Nation under the auspices of Global Gaming and Remington Park,” Pollack said.
“If my company was to be given a truly fair, thoughtful assessment and we still do not win, I would at least know that my 10 years of service to the citizens of Oklahoma City and Zoo Trust will have at least been given careful consideration.”