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October 09, 2004

What’s Good For Northeastern State Is Good For Tahlequah

FROM THE SOONER STATE comes word of an unanticipated outcome in a three year controversy over sales tax funded renovations to football facilities at D2 Northeastern State University (NSU).

Usage of public money for joint-use facilities is nothing new. In this case, however, the voters of Tahlequah, Okla., actually increased their support for the project over the three year life of legal wrangling.

Here’s the timeline:

1996: NSU jumped from NAIA to Division II.

2000: Realization is made that the deteriorated condition of the 60s era Gable Field is not up to D2 standards.

Sept. 2001: 2100 Tahlequah residents—more than the previous mayoral election—vote on a referendum to raise the city sales tax by a half cent. The measure passes by 11 votes.

Oct. 2001: Tax opponents file a lawsuit claiming that there had been no posting in newspaper legal notices.

2003: State Court of Civil Appeals ruled the referendum invalid.

March, 2004: In a larger turnout than the first referendum, a whopping 72% of voters approve of the original vote.

The dramatic increase—from just north of 50% in favor to 72%—in the approval rating among taxpayers is highly unusual.

Now there’s a synthetic turf field that allows for a high school game, band competition and college football, all on the same weekend. Plus an all-weather synthetic track has allowed NSU to engage in D2 track & field competition for the first time.

Says NSU Associate AD Scott Pettus, “It’s good for the city of Tahlequah because now our football stadium will become an economic center. This venue can now host concerts and other activities. It can generate revenue for the city.”

Sorta sounds like the ol’: “What’s good for General Motors is good for the country.”

All’s well that ends well.

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(this 302 word excerpt—with accompanying commentary—was culled from a 2200 word article in the Oct. 2004 issue of Athletic Business)