Director named for A Gathering Place for Tulsa park

Posted: Sunday, August 14, 2016 12:00 am
By RHETT MORGAN World Staff Writer | 8 comments
With operational experience at venues such as SeaWorld and Universal Studios in Florida, Tony Moore knows what it’s like to push attendance and profit.
But in A Gathering Place for Tulsa park, he sees something much different.
“Coming here and seeing the George Kaiser Family Foundation and what they were doing and how involved they were and the good, wholesome mission behind it … that felt really good from a point of making a difference,” said Moore, who was announced Sunday as director of the $350 million park under construction on Riverside Drive near downtown. “You’re not just providing thrills. There’s a purpose behind it.
“The mission side caught me, and I wasn’t expecting that.”
Moore, 48, most recently served as chief operating officer at Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, Florida. At A Gathering Place, he will lead the overall guest experience and oversee all programming and operations.
“It’s not a paid-admission experience,” said Moore, who also will head operations at the downtown urban park Guthrie Green, another arm of GKFF. “At the end of the day, though, it’s a guest coming in interacting with an environment who needs to leave beyond satisfied.
“We will have a park in Tulsa that will be regional and well-respected from a regional point of view. But from a selfish point of view, I would like to see this park grow and be respected from a national point of view.”
Developed by the George Kaiser Family Foundation, A Gathering Place eventually will convert nearly 100 acres along the Arkansas River into green space. The 66.5-acre first phase, scheduled to be completed by late 2017, will run from about 26th to 31st streets on the east side of Riverside and from 26th Street to 33rd Place on the west side.
Moore brings 30 years of experience heading park operations, environmental, health and safety, culinary operations and marketing for some of the most respected hospitality and entertainment institutions. Before working at the zoo in Tampa, he served as corporate director for SeaWorld and executive assistant to the CEO. He also worked as director of operations for Discovery Cove and SeaWorld Orlando, the director of environmental health and safety for all three SeaWorld Orlando parks and director of culinary revenue for its water parks.
A graduate of the University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, Moore also held leadership roles in operations at Universal Studios, Florida.
He was among five finalists from the more than 400 contacted for the Gathering Place job, said Jeff Stava, executive director and trustee of Tulsa’s Gathering Place, LLC.
“Tony has one of the most well-rounded sets of experience,” Stava said of Moore, a married father of two young children.
“He also has been on the business side of theme parks. The way the foundation works, we’re financially oriented. We want to be efficient and effective with the dollars that we have. Tony brings that kind of knowledge and experience about that.
“He has the knowledge. He has passion, and he has leadership.”
Moore, originally from Jamaica but a resident of Florida the past three decades, started his new job July 18.
“When you’re opening a park as big as this is, it takes a lot of people,” Stava said. “It takes a lot of procedures and process. Having Tony on board, he can dedicate his time to making sure he gets the right team. There’s nothing like seeing something being built to kind of understand how it looks and feels and how it can operate. That’s what he’s immersing himself in right now.”
Rhett Morgan 918-581-8395
rhett.morgan@tulsaworld.com