Without gaming, TMB Racing leaves Flying Lark behind

GRANTS PASS, Ore. —The future of a Josephine County Fairgrounds building is uncertain as the Flying Lark is terminating its lease. Now it’s up to the county to figure out what’s next.

Grants Pass-based TMB Racing has confirmed it has backed out of its lease with Josephine County for the Flying Lark restaurant. TMB Racing is owned by Dutch Bros co-founder Travis Boersma. He had hoped to have state-allowed gaming at the site.

The Flying Lark, once a central idea of Travis Boersma’s to build a new venture at the Josephine County Fairgrounds, is no more opening up new possibilities.

On Thursday, the Dutch Bros co-founder released a statement saying, “After more than a year of discussions with various businesses, tribes, and financial experts, I’ve made the difficult decision to officially hand over the flying lark building to Josephine County. It’s my hope the asset can be of great value to the community. By terminating the lease, the county is able to exercise its strength in determining the next tenant. This puts the county in the position to gain meaningful income and create a space that benefits Grants Pass and everyone in southern Oregon.”

The long-term future of the location was in doubt almost exactly a year ago when the state racing commission declined Boersma’s gaming efforts at the Flying Lark. He wanted to put historic horse racing machines or HHRs in the restaurant. But the Oregon Department of Justice released an opinion saying the Flying Lark would operate as an illegal casino with HRRs because the games are based on chance and not skill.

“This book is not closed on the Flying Lark, we’ll work through it, it may be something we just need to pump the brakes,” said Commissioner Dan Deyoung last February.

Despite County Commissioner Dan DeYoung’s positivity last year, and Boersma’s continued efforts, the gaming approval never came. Now the county has to figure out a new plan for the building on the fairgrounds property.

Williams resident Claudia Beausoleil is excited about what could be.

“I look at it as a new opportunity where gambling can be addictive and turning it over to the community for a possible homeless shelter and other opportunities is a good thing,” said Beausoleil.

We reached out to county commissioners for a reaction but they were unavailable for an interview.

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Jenna King is the 6pm and 11pm anchor for NBC5 News. Jenna is a Burbank, CA native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Sports Business. During her time at Oregon she was part of the student-run television station, Duck TV. She also grew her passion for sports through her internship with the PAC 12 Network. When Jenna is not in the newsroom you can find her rooting for her hometown Dodgers, exploring the outdoors or binging on the latest Netflix release.
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