A company formed two weeks ago as part of an effort to take over operations at the Oklahoma City Zoo Amphitheatre has ties to Remington Park and its owner, Global Gaming, a Chickasaw Nation subsidiary, according to previously sealed documents obtained by The Oklahoman.
Oklahoma City Zoo Director Dwight Scott, in an interview last week, cited advice of city attorneys in declining to release several documents included in a proposal by 3Horse Productions. The company, led by Michelle Colbert, a former marketing director with the Chickasaw Nation, is seeking to replace the current operator, Facilities Management Group, which has overseen bookings at the amphitheater for the past decade.
The documents were unsealed, however, after a protest by The Oklahoman that Scott's actions were in violation of the Oklahoma Open Records Act. A vote by the Oklahoma City Zoological Trust on negotiating a contract with 3Horse was delayed Wednesday after the protest was voiced to city attorneys and trustees.
Howard Pollack, owner of Facilities Management Group, said the revelations support his claims that the process of weighing competing offers was manipulated.
“Everyone was blind to all this — including me,” Pollack said. “You have a company that incorporated a day before the requests for proposals were due. You knew there had to be subterfuge involved.”
Scott and representatives of Sulphur-based 3Horse Productions and Remington Park all denied the documents were withheld to intentionally prevent the public from learning about the racetrack and casino's involvement.
“Until yesterday afternoon, it was our mistaken belief that this was a closed-bid process,” Colbert said in a statement released to The Oklahoman. “Since we included the terms of our offer in the proposal, we believed it was premature to release the information before the selection was made. When we learned that it was not a closed-bid process, we had and certainly have no issue with releasing the information.”
Several mentions of ties to Remington Park Racing Casino and its owner, Chickasaw subsidiary Global Gaming, are included in the previously sealed documents. And while no mention is in Pollack's proposal, John Elliott, chief executive officer of Global Gaming Solution, the racetrack's owner, said Pollack was offered the same arrangements.
Elliott also confirmed Global Gaming and Remington Park initially expressed interest in competing, but backed out after learning members of the Chickasaw Nation were among officers in both 3Horse Productions and Facilities Management Group.
Ties between nation, company
The first mention of ties between the Chickasaw Nation and 3Horse Productions is in the previously sealed introduction letter signed by Colbert, who listed as a benefit of her proposal “plans to jointly promote events at the Zoo Amphitheatre with Remington Park to further enhance the visibility of, and visitations to the Adventure District.”
The proposal goes on to note “the partners in 3Horse Productions LLC. currently enjoy a strategic partnership with Global Gaming RP, owner of Remington Park.”
Three groups submitted offers
Three companies submitted proposals to operate the Oklahoma City Zoo Amphitheatre. A selection committee, led by zoo director Dwight Scott, was set to recommend last week 3Horse Productions over current operator Facilities Management Group and another competitor, DCF Enterprises.
Out of a potential 115 points, 3Horse received 105 points, Facilities Management Group received 75 points, and DCF Enterprises received 65 points.
3Horse offered to pay $258,000 a year to the Oklahoma City Zoological Trust and another $100,000 for capital improvements to the amphitheater. Facilities Management Group offered to pay $250,000 a year plus 10 percent of net profits. No financial proposal is shown in the DCF Enterprises proposal. Scott said Remington Park's proposed involvement in the 3Horse proposal was not a deciding factor in recommending the firm's selection. The scoring sheet shows 3Horse Productions was given an “excellent” rating relating to collaboration and partnerships, while Facilities Management Group was ranked “poor.”