TAHLEQUAH — The Cherokee Nation announced last week that it has purchased the Blue Ribbon Downs race track in Sallisaw. Terms were not disclosed but a news release said the purchase includes the land, facilities and equipment. Blue Ribbon Downs was owned by the Choctaw Nation.Blue Ribbon Downs is the second race track owned by the Cherokee Nation. They also own Will Rogers Downs in Claremore. The tribe said it has no immediate plans for Blue Ribbon Downs.
The track has a long history of financial problems and multiple owners. It has twice been in bankruptcy in 1997 and 2002. Severe financial problems continued through 2009.
Blue Ribbon Downs is approximately 100 acres within the Cherokee Nation's tribal jurisdiction. It is bordered on the south by Interstate 40 and on the north by Oklahoma 64.
"We had an opportunity to purchase property that is within our tribal jurisdiction so we always closely consider that, and see it as a wise business decision to take advantage of that any time we can," said David Stewart, CEO of Cherokee Nation Entertainment.
"The Choctaws did an excellent job in trying to make the track profitable," said Stewart. "As owners of a track in Oklahoma, we understand the economics of the industry."
"The purchase is also an opportunity for us to utilize some of the equipment at Will Rogers Downs, which will provide some needed upgrades at that facility."
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