USL Pro announces new expansion franchise in Tulsa

USLPRo

By CAITLIN MURRAY

USL Pro’s rapid expansion is blowing through Tulsa, Okla., where a new team will begin play in 2015.

USL Pro announced Wednesday that the Great Plains city will be the league’s 15th team and newest expansion site with the new club being majority-owned by The Tulsa Drillers of Minor League Baseball. Prodigal LLC, who own the other Oklahoma expansion franchise in USL Pro, Oklahoma City Energy FC, will be minority owners.

The yet-unnamed team will play its home games at the Drillers’ home venue, ONEOK Field, which will be converted into a soccer field running from first base toward the left field wall. Seating capacity will be around 7,800. The name of the new team will be part of a “Name Your Team” contest to be launched in coming months.

With Tulsa in the mix, third-division USL Pro now has 15 teams as the league grows rapidly from the mere six founding clubs it had in 2010. Next year will see the debut of the Sacramento Republic and the Oklahoma City Energy, plus a yet-unnamed franchise in Colorado Springs in 2015.

Helping USL Pro’s expansion is an arrangement from last winter that allows Major League Soccer franchises to choose to either field a reserve team in USL Pro or partner with an existing franchise by 2015. To date, Sporting Kansas City, New England Revolution, Philadelphia Union, D.C. United and Houston Dynamo all have announced USL Pro team partnerships.

Wednesday’s announcement marks the return of pro soccer to the Tulsa area since the Tulsa Roughnecks of the North American Soccer League suspended play nearly 30 years ago. Tulsa has still been home to high-level soccer, with the University of Tulsa continually finishing as one of the best NCAA Division One men’s soccer teams, having won the Conference USA regular season title three years in a row starting in 2007.

“We are very excited to be involved in bringing a high level of professional, outdoor soccer back to the city of Tulsa,” Drillers General Manager Mike Melega said in a statement. “We feel that Tulsa is a great soccer market, and this return is long overdue.”

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What do you think of USL Pro expanding to Tulsa? Do you think Tulsa can be a good soccer market? Is the rapid expansion for USL Pro a good thing?

Share your thoughts below.

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18 Responses to USL Pro announces new expansion franchise in Tulsa

  1. Darwin says:

    Tulsa Tulips FC

  2. lprevolution says:

    No need to tip-toe around the issue. It should be Roughnecks. It’s really fun to watch this little footy experiment in the USA. Little be little we are a culture finding a place within the sports ranks of every town. Awesome.

    • Ian says:

      It really is gratifying to see soccer grow before our eyes. The real test will be in ten years: How many of these teams will still be around? If they’re all around and thriving, then I hope we can move toward pro/rel, at least among the lower tiers. I don’t see how three leagues can succeed as mutually exclusive entities. A merger would just makes sense.

  3. J says:

    The return of the Roughnecks! Paging Joe-Max Moore. There’s a coaching vacancy!

  4. jon f says:

    Dont think for a second that Sacramento and Oklahoma and Tulsa will even come close to the success of Orlando. USL with or without MLS affiliation has and will continue to ruin potential soccer markets.

    • Eric B says:

      And why would that be? USL Pro has had some “real winners” when it comes to owners lately (Phoenix) but what about Tulsa and Sacramento (especially) comdemn them to such hyperbole already?

    • Joamiq says:

      What? How is it ruining them?

      • Alamo City Ultra says:

        How about the fact that there is already a very succesful NPSL club already in Tulsa who average more in attendance than many USL clubs.

    • bryan says:

      Sacramento has sold 3,100 season tickets and their FB page is bigger than some MLS teams. oh, they are also building a 8,000 seat SSS for USL Pro while ALSO exploring sites for a future SSS that would meet MLS requirements…

      “USL with or without MLS affiliation has and will continue to ruin potential soccer markets.”

      one of the stupidest comments to be posted to SBI…ever.in a league without a competitive reserve league, the affliation with USL Pro is going to do a lot for youth development.

  5. nolefan says:

    NASL is definitely losing the expansion battle

  6. M says:

    Minority owned by the local rival team?!

    • Cassiano says:

      Sounds like he’s preparing for the OK team to eventually fold due too the nail team in 2015.

      On a side note, who is approving all of these expansions.
      Yes they are in different leagues, but really 4 teams?…they can’t all be expecting to survive

  7. Been There says:

    Great News! However, I’m a little dissappointed the current team in Tulsa wasn’t considered and concerned that they will compete against each other for fans. The club already in Tulsa has done an outstanding job building a fan base organically, without any ligitimate league to play in. This new club has some inherent advantages but it would have been nice if they could have worked together. The existing club has been drawing 3,000 – 4,000 fans to watch them play the Sisters of the Poor. There is a definite hunger for soccer in Tulsa but I’m not sure if they can support two lower level clubs. This new club should take notes from the existing one.

    • Alamo City Ultra says:

      The existing NPSL team is preparing to go all out against this USL invader. They are rallying their supporters in an effort to give this new team the cold shoulder. We’ll see how it plays out, but I’m hoping the NPSL comes out on top.

      • Helium-3 says:

        Isn’t NPSL a semi-pro league? Are players paid enough to make a living or they semi-pros?

        • Alamo City Ultra says:

          Yes, they are considered amateur. They are considered part of the “4th division” on the American “Soccer Pyramid.” I believe they also average over 3000 attendance wise. The teams are made mostly of college players in their off seasons. This team has already endeared themselves to the local “soccer” community and it sucks that USL wants to come in and exploit that. I hope the USL effort fails miserably.

  8. The Greekness220 says:

    You can see by all the comments the New team should be called… “Tulsa Pride”. BOOOM!!!!