Fears rise as other cities compete for horse shows’ long standing in Oklahoma City

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) - The National Reining Horse Association is at State Fair Park this week which means more money to Oklahoma City.

In fact, horse shows bring in around $170 million dollars to the city through direct spending.

But it could be in jeopardy.

The National Reining Horse Association Futurity brings in competitors from all over the world.

"Every second year we try to come over and this year we have some Aussies with some horses,” Jessica Watson said.

NRHA has been in Oklahoma City since 1986. Their headquarters also moved to Oklahoma City after first being in Ohio.

"Largest and most important reigning show in the world. Give or take 1,500 horses here all week,” Gary Carpenter, NRHA Commissioner said.

And the NRHA commissioner wants to keep the event at State Fair Park in Oklahoma City, but there's some worry that it could change with other cities like Fort Worth who recently spent $540 million on their own arena. Tulsa also received 90 million dollars in improvements.

Meanwhile, the Jim Norick Arena is in need of major repairs after five decades.

“It's revered here, but we all know some things have to change and the competition for events between the money Fort Worth has spent,” Carpenter said.

The MAPS 4 proposal includes a new coliseum that would replace the aging arena. The MAPS money would pay for $63 million and the hotel/motel tax would pay for the remainder $25 million.

"We need to step up. That's what our customers demand and that's what the industry demands and other cities are willing to do that,” Carpenter said.

We spoke to former City Councilman Ed Shadid by phone. He's against the MAPS 4 proposal. He believes there are other ways to pay for the coliseum like through the hotel/motel tax or through the Oklahoma State Fair Inc. nonprofit.

President of the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau said State Fair Park 3% of the 5% hotel/motel tax that has to go toward repairs for horse show events facilities. That includes the barns and the arena.

No matter how it's funded, most would agree something needs to be done to the 54-year-old building.

"Oklahoma City embraces the horse show industry and has been so supportive all these years and we want that to continue and we want that to continue here,” Carpenter said.

For more information on the proposed MAPS 4 projects, click here.

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