Oklahoma City set to be awarded USL PRO expansion team

USLPRo

By FRANCO PANIZO

As it turns out, NASL is not the only league eyeing Oklahoma City for expansion.

USL PRO, the third division for soccer in the United States, is expected to announce an expansion team in Oklahoma City on Tuesday, sources close to the situation told SBI. The announcement will be made at a formal press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

The news of the USL PRO team comes a day after NASL commissioner Bill Peterson revealed via Twitter that NASL had invited an Oklahoma City ownership group to present a formal expansion bid later in July.

So what does all this mean for professional soccer in Oklahoma City?

It’s a little unclear as of now, because the ownership group looking to field the NASL Oklahoma City team also owns the PDL club Oklahoma City FC and is planning on filing a lawsuit against USL PRO with the hopes of being able to field an NASL side in the same market. The ownership group is currently not allowed to compete with USL PRO due to its ownership of Oklahoma City FC.

Sources told SBI that the ownership group had discussed fielding an expansion team in USL PRO but that the league ultimately decided on another group’s bid, which resulted in the former expressing interest in NASL.

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What do you think of USL PRO picking Oklahoma City as the site for its next expansion team? Would you rather see an OKC team in NASL or USL PRO? Ideally, would you like to see an OKC team in both leagues?

Share your thoughts below.

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76 Responses to Oklahoma City set to be awarded USL PRO expansion team

  1. jonk says:

    From a fan’s perspective, I don’t really think it matters, right? I mean presumably it’s better to only have 1 pro team there but the 2nd vs 3rd tier label is so arbitrary…unless people are really dying to see the new Cosmos.

    • jerichowhiskey says:

      NASL and USL PRO have different business models. NASL teams usually can afford to offer better salaries, facilities, etc. USL PRO is more for teams that do not necessarily have much money to invest, but can still earn a decent return.

      So if you want to watch a “quality” side that is not MLS, NASL would be better than USL PRO.

      • Oculus says:

        There is no difference in quality between NASL and USL Pro, maybe in the future, but not yet.

        • Danwolf02 says:

          More like next year. With 3 new NASL teams next year the USL-Pro is going to take a huge hit.

      • jonk says:

        Yeah, I knew financially there is a reason for the distinction and that each league has different minimum requirements that a given team/market must meet, but not having seen much of them aside from USOC games I thought they seemed about the same in quality. I stand corrected. Regardless of where they end up, more western-ish teams in the lower levels is a great thing.

        • Oculus says:

          The only thing that makes NASL and USL Pro, a division 2 and 3 league, is ownership group. However you will find that most NASL teams, operate under the same 400,000 budget as USL Pro teams.

        • Kyle says:

          The difference between the 2nd and 3rd divisions is in name only

          • MNNiceFC says:

            What could you possibly be basing this on? You’re telling me that VSI Tampa Bay is basically the same as the Tampa Bay Rowdies?
            Do people even bother with evidence before they say things?

            • Oculus says:

              Both VSI and Rowdies have the same budget. If you are taking about attendance, VSI is an expansion side, give them a chance, and they will compete.

              • meh says:

                Do you actually know for a fact that they have the same budget? I assume you mean player salaries?

                As for attendance, no, VSI is not competitive and there is no reason to expect that to change. Expansion sides at this level are expected to draw more than just a few hundred fans per game in their first year. The VSI (absentee) ownership doesn’t appear to give a rat’s ass about promoting the team or drawing fans. They make the anemic Rowdies ownership group look like marketing geniuses in comparison. I have no idea why VSI are even fielding a USL Pro side.

            • RK says:

              Neither USL nor NASL had enough teams (16?) to be sanctioned by USSF as the second division, so USL did the smart thing and said “Ok, we’re the 3rd division then. Good luck NASL since you only have 9 or so.” So the USSF….backed down and let NASL be the second division, despite not meeting the requirements, as long as they had plans to expand.

              • amerisnob says:

                Youre entirely wrong. The 16 teams requirement is by the sixth season, which there is plenty of time left for them to reach 16.

                Secondly, USL became the 3rd division because their best teams all left for NASL, only Orlando can compare on and off the field to NASL.

              • RK says:

                No, USSF changed it, because they couldn’t fulfill the requirement. They make it up as they go along.

              • Zach says:

                RK has it exactly right

      • Bob Dobalina says:

        NASL out draws USL Pro by a factor of 2 to 1. There is a reason for that. NASL teams simply are richer than USL Pro.

        • Dan Dan says:

          NASL teams are also located in bigger markets vs. USL Pro. They *should* have more attendance.

  2. AzTeXan says:

    It’s safe to assume it will be one or the other right?

    • 407 says:

      Question seconded. This needs to be cleared up. If there are two minor league soccer franchises in OKC, that would begin the most ridiculous cycle of a “Can the market support a franchise?” conversation of all time.

  3. Rory says:

    I don’t think we need a territory fight in courts in the lower tiers though

  4. K-Town says:

    I’m confused. At this point in time I wish US Soccer could get this 2nd/3rd division sorted out. I really wish NASL and USL could just merge back together and create a nationally covered 2nd division. Let PDL and others fill up the 3rd division.

    Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe all this animosity and compettion between USL and NASL is good.

    • Oculus says:

      USL Pro wants to take out the NASL.

      • Jason says:

        Well, they’re not doing a very good job of it, then. NASL has already beat USL to markets they were both going after (Edmonton, Tampa, now OKC), and the quality of the league has improved enough so that there is a significant difference between the average play of a NASL team compared to a USL-PRO team.

        In my opinion, it would be best for the two to develop a friendly peace agreement so that they can both keep expanding. I like watching both leagues, but I can’t stand the fighting.

        • nolefan says:

          The only reason why there are two teams in Tampa because USL Pro’s headquarters are based in Tampa. USL Pro didn’t like having I guess a rival having a team in USL Pro’s backyard

        • wesbadia says:

          I don’t recall Edmonton ever being a target for USL-Pro expansion, primarily because the CSA has repeatedly said that they do not want to legitimize a 3rd tier in Canada that isn’t based solely in Canada. Unless the USL was looking at Edmonton early in the going (ie, 10 years ago), I don’t see why they’d waste resources in pursuing something if they knew it wouldn’t be a CSA-sanctioned team.

          Also, there is virtually NO difference in quality between USL and NASL play. In USOC matches, both tiers have equally beaten up on each other, and many of the preseason and friendlies have produced much the same. For all intents and purposes, the two leagues are virtually on the same level. Which is to be expected from a three year old league like the NASL.

          I second the hate towards the fighting. The personalities can be left at the door. This is business, after all. If the leagues aren’t going to knock it off, Gulati and USSF need to step in.

          • jspech says:

            obviously, NASL w/ less teams have outdrawn USLpro, this yr so far. So I’ll go w/that as which league is superior

            • wesbadia says:

              Attendance is the defining factor of superiority in soccer? You must be a Sounders fan…

              Nevermind the subconscious factors weighing on a consumer like the USSF legitimizing the NASL as “2nd tier” despite not being able to meet the original requirements of a 2nd tier league. How many people go out to see teams based solely on what division they’re in? I think that weighs in, especially considering the fact that those attendance numbers you cite are marginally better at best.

              Also, USL seem intent on tackling the 3rd tier markets rather than going for larger ones. There’s nothing wrong with that, as I live in one of USL’s 3rd tier cities, but having a top 5 ranked population city like Atlanta in your league definitely helps things a bit. Add to that the fact that most USL teams have much smaller stadiums and you see why the numbers are skewed.

              When it comes to quality of play, no matter how you cut it, NASL and USL are dead even.

              • jspech says:

                really, majority of USLPro teams avg. less than 1800 fans/gm w/quite a few under a 1000

        • Bob Dobalina says:

          USL Pro also lost out in San Antonio too and Ottawa.

          • Rick Ramthun says:

            You conveniently left out Pittsburgh, Orlando, Charlotte, Phoenix and Los Angeles…twist it anyway you want it…presently the talent is about equal with some strong support in the NASL. But how long before the ‘top teams’ are picked off by MLS?

            • Brad says:

              I wouldnt really hold LA up as anything. They average less than 1,000/game. The same goes for VSI Tampa. They are a joke. They came in promising a 20K seat portable stadium, blah, blah, blah. They play in basically a little league baseball stadium in Plant City, FL.

  5. Helium-3 says:

    Why doesn’t the NASL team move to Tulsa, and bring back the Roughnecks. They then can
    renew their rivalary with the Cosmos.

    Is there a big difference in quality between NASL and USL Pro? From what I’ve seen, MLS and NASL
    is bigger gap than NASL and USL Pro.

    • Jason says:

      You are correct- the gap between NASL and MLS is much larger than the gap between USL-PRO and NASL. However, there is a gap that exists.

      NASL won’t move the team to Tulsa because they’ve already been granted a lease on a stadium in OKC, a lease that was awarded to them instead of to USL.

      Source: link to newsok.com

      • Camjam says:

        What gap? I keep reading these comments “yes there’s a gap”, “no, there’s not a gap” blah blah blah. My only experience with the 2 is when RSL plays them in the US Open cup or Phoenix FC came to town. Still, I gotta say, I didn’t really notice any quality difference. Case in point: RSL was knocked out by a pretty impressive Minnesota (NASL) team last year, but this year bet 2 NASL teams (Railhawk, SIlverbacks) much more comfortably than the 1 USL team they played (Carolina).

        And it was USL who had 2 teams that made it to the 4th round, while each league had 1 team make it to the 3rd. If that isn’t a model of equality, I don’t know what is.

  6. Travis says:

    How has it been determined that NASL is 2nd division and USL PRO is 3rd division? I always a$$umed the two divisions were more or less on the same level

    • Northzax says:

      Well, something has to be (FIFA insists) so why not?

    • NC Jeff says:

      The USSF sanctioned NASL as a 2nd division league and USL as a 3rd division league (and MLS, obviously, as a 1st division league) in the USA.

    • Brad says:

      Also, USL=Pro decided it was happy to be a MLS’s bitch. As a matter of fact, MLS wants to put MORE teams in USLP as actual farms teams, much like AAA baseball. IF that’s what a USL team wants to be, then fine I guess. I’s much rather be in the NASL, and not a farm team for anyone. But that’s my opinion

  7. RK says:

    Idiots. Get on the same page and work together, or you are just throwing money down the drain.

  8. ac70 says:

    NASL is tightly associated with Traffic Sports so there is more money there. I am not from OKC, but if the market can support 2 teams great.

  9. beto says:

    up to them…OKCFC could become become FC Dallas’ affiliate in USLPRO or San Antonio’s rival in NASL..

    • Brad says:

      I don’t want to be ANYBODY’S afiliate, ESPECIALLY Dallas. But like I said, thats totally MY opinion. I’d rather be SA’s rival and independent.

  10. Rector & Carlisle says:

    I would be more optimistic about St. Louis getting a first division team if there was even the slightest discussion of a second or third division team.

    All this talk of “history” puts the city on par with Canton, Cooperstown and Springfield.

  11. 2 OKC teams 1 cup says:

    Hope the NASL team doesn’t cannibalize the USL pro team’s fanbase, assuming they plan to coexist

    • Bob Dobalina says:

      The USL Pro team will die out. They don’t even have a stadium. The NASL team beat them out for the lease. This seems to be more out of spite than anything else.

      • Brad says:

        I hope you’re right. I have NO idea where they are going to play. The only thing I can think of is C.B. Speegle stadium, on the south side, because it is also be ing renevated, but it will be smaller than Taft and in a worse neighborhood.
        They may try for Wantland Stadium on UCO’s campus, but that’s in Edmond (see FC Dallas and Frisco. Same situation).
        The wild card I can see is if they can SOMEHOW pull a lease to play downtown at the baseball stadium in Bricktown. That would be the ONLY way (IMHO) that they would have a chance to survive. Everyone that I know is commited to supporting OKC FC in the NASL

  12. TimbersGary says:

    They should just build a fancy stadium and move the Sounders to OKC.

    • Travis says:

      To soon

    • bring NASL to el paso tx says:

      Maybe that money head, who wants to have nba and nhl in seattle and make them a gorgeous nba arena,SHOULD make a top of the world SSS for the a sounders.

  13. jspech says:

    how is this good for business.? After NASL announcement, why didn’t USLpro just place their team in Tulsa?

  14. Mike in Missouri says:

    Will never happen, but it might be time for the USSF to oversee all levels more formally than it currently does.

    As far as the news, OKC is a good choice for a team. I like these decent size cities getting 2/3 division teams. Allows them opportunity for infrastructure, youth development, stadiums, etc. When the 2/3 divisions are solvent, then we could look at prom/rel about 20 years down the road, rather than a 30 team MLS.

  15. Danwolf02 says:

    Easy, NASL is from top to bottom the better league between them and USL-Pro. USL-Pro basically has a few teams right now that could be in NASL while the lower half should probably be in PDL.

    • AzTeXan says:

      Like Antigua and Barbuda. Haven’t even won a game yet.

      • wesbadia says:

        Doesn’t help that they don’t play any home games. Imagine playing 28 games against quality opponents, all on the road, and never once going home to your families for any extended amount of time. That’s the definition of hell…

  16. bring NASL to el paso tx says:

    Okc and tulsa deserve a soccer team, nasl in okc and uslpro in tulsa= rivals at heart
    But here in el pado tx, we will take anything uslpro or nasl, so tulsa or okc make up your mind because we will take your yeam in a instant, if your owners want.
    But i also thought tulsa and okc were both getting nasl teams, but i guess uslpro wants to be 2 division

  17. Mac says:

    The level between NASL squads and better USL PRO squads is not that big at present but, per USSF sanctioning, 2nd division teams must have an ownership partner with a net worth of at least 20 mil, among other qualifications. This was instituted to build a foundation for a more substantial D2 than USL has ever been able to pull off. Orlando specifically stayed in D3 while it’s intent has been to go to MLS almost since day one. Most NASL squads have no, at least short to mid-term, plans for MLS at all. Whatever NASL is spending on operations per year now you can be sure that the collective league plan is to ramp up spending and scale as the league develops. Charlotte, Antigua, Harrisburg and Wilmington have not plans to compete financially with the likes of McGuire in Minnesota ever. Over time NASL will grow into a more substantial D2 and USL will continue to do its great work youth divisions, PDL, Womens league and grow as a solid D3.
    Both camps need to stop with the pissing match.

  18. XI says:

    Honestly I just wish the USL would go away, I think its pathetic they are still trying to ride the coattails of the NASL owners. Its a pathetic league with no real vision for the future, they should just come to grips with the fact that they need to stick to markets like Charleston, Wilmington, Rochester, and wherever else. The NASL is legitimately trying to build a solid foundation for 2nd division soccer in this country, in 10 years they will hopefully be as stable as MLS is now. And no I’m not a fan of pro-rel.

    • XI says:

      The USL does serve a purpose in cities like Richmond, Dayton, Charleston, Wilmington, Rochester, and Harrisburg. But the fact that they have a franchise in Tampa and now want to add one in OKC is just pathetic. Maybe NASL should start Tweeting out future cities to add new teams that they aren’t interested in?

      • wesbadia says:

        Unfortunately for all the NASL fan boys, USL just announced their OKC team will not only begin play in 2014 (not 2015 like the rumored NASL team will), but also that the ownership group is no other than Prodigal LLC, the other group that NASL was attempting talks with.

        To me, it seems that USL was way ahead of the game compared to NASL, seeing as how the NASL BoG aren’t even going to be meeting to discuss the potential acceptance of an OKC franchise until the end of this month. Something doesn’t add up on the NASL side.

        • Marcus says:

          The other way of looking at it is that the USL didn’t do as much due diligence…quickly selecting this OKC ownership team to beat the NASL to the punch.

        • meh says:

          The OKC NASL ownership group has a stadium. Where is the USL Pro side going to play? Being first to play is pretty meaningless if they are going to be playing in front of a few hundred fans in a high school stadium with gridiron marked astroturf and no beer.

  19. dudeman22 says:

    Being from okc, I can’t see two teams existing with each other in separate leages. The current okc fc has the name already, and any other team would be competing with an already known product. The only thing I can think of is a north. Side, south side okc split, but it’s unlikely. I’d personally like to see the usl pro with the team, because I’m ecstatic at the thought of okc fc being an affiliate for fc Dallas is any way.

  20. HarborMaster says:

    There’s a lot of false info being thrown around here. You guys should read more. USL Pro was talking to OKC long before NASL. When USL selected Prodigal Sports as the OKC expansion group, the guy that lost out decided to reach out to the NASL. So you can forget the idea that USL is trying to trump an NASL announcement, it’s the exact opposite. That’s why the NASL went on Twitter last night with their “announcement.” Completely bush league, but ttypical.

    Secondly, USL Pro beat NASL more than they lost in preseason games this year, and when the Rowdies played VSI Tampa it was a 1-0 game that could have gone either way. There’s NO difference in the quality.

    Thirdly, USL Pro is partnered with MLS in a reserve league capacity, while NASL wants to compete with MLS. If a team wants to move to MLS down the road, USL Pro is the route that would make more sense.

    • jspech says:

      how attendance? Can u break that down, since u are well informed

    • OFCBDJ says:

      HaborMaster,

      Maybe you should do your homework before spouting off….Prodigal has been toying with the idea of USL for over 3 years and did nothing with it. An ownership group got together and went to the USL with the idea of playing in the PDL for a couple of years and then going to the USL when the time was right. As soon as Prodigal saw the success of the PDL team Oklahoma City FC, they exercised their “option” to for a franchise…OKC FC’s ownership group tried to get the USL franchise, when they couldn’t because of a prior deal, they went to the NASL and secured stadium rights for the only logical place to play in OKC until a real stadium is built…Talk about bush league…as soon as the NASL group got the stadium rights, the USL and Prodigal decided to have a press conference announcing a USL team…even though they have no place to play.

      Need to get the facts straight

  21. Privo says:

    Who cares. If it isn’t MLS I will never go see either of them.

  22. nolefan says:

    If you read closely, the group that NASL wants to run the team cannot legally run the team because the owner owns the PDL side based in OKC. He has a non compete clause with the USL and if he is getting sued by the USL Pro front office. NASL has not officially announced the new franchise on the official NASL website while USL has. USL right now is winning the race for OKC

    • Brad says:

      YOU need to read a little more. The NASL group in OKC has sued the USL. Their contention is that the Non-Compete portion of their agreement is NOT enforceable in the state of Oklahoma. I believe this is because Oklahoma is a Right-To-Work state. This would be construed as restricting fair trade. I REALLY hope they win. I have a personal bone to pick with Bob Funk. I guessafter he destroyed the most successful minor league hockey team in history, that now he has set his myopic sights on destroying fan interest in soccer in OKC as well. What an Ass Hat!

    • OFCBDJ says:

      Not so “NOLEFAN”,

      NASL team is a done deal..Announcement in July is a formality. USL team has no place to play in OKC. They lost, pure and simple, but they are hoping USL prevails in court to prevent existing ownership of OKC FC from playing in NASL…

      Do you really think that a court is going to say that a “non-compete” for an amatuer PDL team prevents bringin in an NASL team? Also, Oklahoma is a right to work state and non-competes don’t hold much weight in Oklahoma.

      • nolefan says:

        read the article that Ives posted yesterday about the Oklahoma City bid. NASL hasn’t even accepted it yet.

        USL has announced that there WILL be a team while NASL is allowing the OKC group to pitch an expansion bid.

  23. OFCBDJ says:

    OKC FC attendance is currently 8th in the PDL and better than 4 of the USL Pro teams in their first season. If you include a friendly against Club America…they are averaging over 1700 per game.

  24. Sean McKeown says:

    I apologize if I’m about to repeat myself but I can’t read all this ridiculous NASL/USL PRO fighting, It’s absolutely the most destructive element of soccer in this country.

    But my personal opinion is that the NASL Oklahoma group should move their PDL team to NPSL for the 2014 season, then there won’t be any playing conflict with USL PRO.

    Can the city handle two minor league teams is the bigger question.

  25. Soccer in Oklahoma says:

    Professional soccer in Oklahoma belongs in Tulsa. Tulsa with an extended metro population of over 1 million with OKC to the west with and extended metro population of 1.3 million and Northwest Arkansas 2 hours to the east with a metro population of 500,000. A team in OKC will not draw from NW Arkansas or the Fort Smith Arkansas markets.OKC will not draw from the Wichita area to the north. They will go to KC. Put a team where it will have the best chance to draw from several large population areas. Plus Tulsa has had past success with professional soccer. Give it the best chance for long term success.

  26. Soccer in Oklahoma says:

    Tulsa Athletics in the NPSL averaged 3,066 per game this year. Very good attendance for a lower league. In the Old NASL days they were one of the top 5 teams in the league in attendance.

  27. Soccer in Oklahoma says:

    …The Tulsa Roughnecks in the old NASL