Update from Tulsa and OKC (Tulsa World)

Discussion in 'MLS: News & Analysis' started by USRufnex, Sep 11, 2003.

  1. USRufnex

    USRufnex Red Card

    Tulsa Athletic / Sheffield United
    United States
    Jul 15, 2000
    Tulsa, OK
    Latest from Tulsa (and OKC)

    MLS remains interested
    GLENN HIBDON World Sports Writer
    Tulsa World (Final Home Edition), Page B3 of Sports
    View in Print (PDF) Format

    Dallas Burn forward Jason Kreis gets the header against Nick Garcia and the Kansas City Wizards during their exhibition match in Tulsa last April.
    STEPHEN HOLMAN / Tulsa World file


    Without owners, chances for a state franchise are slim.
    No news could be bad news for fans wanting to see Major League SOCCER in Oklahoma.

    Although MLS chief operating officer Mark Abbott refused to rule it out, the chances of either Tulsa or Oklahoma City landing a franchise for the 2005 season appear to be slim.

    "We have not identified ownership groups in either market, but we are still interested," Abbott said. "We're continuing to take a look and see how things develop over the fall. It's still possible for it to happen in 2005, but clearly some things have to come together."

    Tulsa's holdup is a playing field. With none on the drawing board, an uphill struggle looms for anyone hoping to secure a franchise.

    In Oklahoma City, Express Sports LLC, headed by Bob Funk, has failed to locate ownership partners.

    "We're still interested, but we have not found any partners to date, and we have not had communication with MLS in two months," said Brad Lund, chief executive officer of Express Sports. "It's at a complete standstill, but it's not as if either party has eliminated the other by any means."

    Both Tulsa and Oklahoma City had MLS preseason games last spring, and over 3,500 fans signed up to purchase season tickets in Tulsa.

    "We need a clear picture of how a stadium can be financed and then to pull together an ownership group," Abbott said. "We remain enthusiastic about our potential there, and we remain very interested in the market."

    Renovations are still going on with SOCCER in mind at Wantland Stadium on the University of Central Oklahoma campus in Edmond, but Express Sports decided to purchase the Oklahoma RedHawks, Oklahoma City's Triple-A baseball team.

    "It was a much more urgent situation," Lund said. "I'm not giving up on the MLS, and I still have my heart into it. I really believe Oklahoma City or Tulsa would be a perfect fit for the MLS because they need to get away from large markets and get into medium-sized markets."

    ---Tulsans just voted "yes" on the Vision 2025 package by a 60-40 margin... wonder if this will embolden city leaders to find creative ways to finance a soccer stadium...


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