Legislators May Find Hotel Rates Soaring Due to Racetrack Success

Article excerpt

Out-of-town legislators returning to Oklahoma City in January could find there is no room at the inn, and if there is, it is going to cost them more money than they have been used to paying.

The opening of the Remington Park horse racetrack has been a boon to business in Oklahoma City, especially motels near the classy Throughbred track.

But that's turned out to be bad news for Oklahoma House and Senate members, who have received preferred monthly rates at some motels near the Capitol.

Several legislators were notified soon after the track opened last month that their monthly room rates would be increased sharply - more than double in some instances - during weeks the track is open.

As things now stand, that could be the virtually the duration of the 1989 Legislature. Remington Park has applied for a 56-day Thoroughbred meet from Feb. 3 through April 23 and a 49-day mixed breed meet from May 25-July 30.

``It's a real problem,'' Senate President Pro Tempore Bob Cullison, D-Skiatook, said of the increase in motel rates for legislators wanting to stay near the Capitol.

Cullison says he was paying about $350 a month for his motel room, but was notified a few weeks ago that the rate would be more than doubled during times Remington Park is operating.

He said he understood the same thing has happened at other motels near Remington Park, which is located adjacent to the Oklahoma City Zoo, about three miles from the Capitol.

He said the higher cost ``will be prohibitive to many members,'' including some who travel more than 200 miles to Oklahoma City for legislative sessions that begin in January and last for five to seven months.

Legislators who live outside the metropolitan Oklahoma City area receive per diem payments of $35 a day to cover lodging and meals while they are in the city for legislative sessions or meetings of committees of which they are a member.

In some instances, legislators have had to make way for race track employees. One motel in the area said it had cut out all weekly and monthly races, except a $600 a monthy rate for race track trainers.

Most motels in the area confirmed their rates would be much higher for legislators in January. …