December 18, 2013

Region3Soccer: Tulsa return to professional soccer in 2015 with USL Pro

Tulsa will return to professional soccer in 2015, when they will participate in the USL Pro with a yet to be named side.

Obviously, the clamber will be to have 'Roughnecks' on the shortlist of names and who could blame the soccer watching public from asking for yet another giant from US Soccer history to be re-invented into the modern day game.

“USL PRO is thrilled about the addition of a Tulsa franchise that will feature a strong ownership group, proven executive sports management team, and excellent downtown venue all in a market with a history of support for professional soccer,” USL President Tim Holt said. “In a sport built on rivalries, Tulsa fans will immediately enjoy an intense geographic rivalry with OKC Energy FC on the field, while the two clubs collaborate off the field to grow the sport at all levels throughout the state.  This represents another major step in USL PRO’s plan for stable and strategic growth into key national markets
Playing at OneOK Field, the club has been re-imaged mainly by the owners of Minor League Baseball side Tulsa Drillers but with minor shareholders Prodigal LLC holding onto a small share of the ownership, it begs the question, 'Is there a conflict of interest there as Prodigal also own the other Oklahoma USL Pro franchise club, OKC Energy FC?'

We don't care, resurrecting professional soccer in Tulsa has been long overdue as was shown by NPSL side Tulsa Athletics in season 2013 who managed crowds of over 3000+ per home game. Although working in completely separate markets, we hope that the new professional side works alongside the NPSL club side in growing the game in the city.

Tulsa and Oklahoma will both benefit from the USL Pro addition as a new State rivalry will ensue, a fact that will not be lost on both the soccer league owners and the club owners. Both parties are bound to play up the rivalry and are sure to come up with some fancy name for it to entice fans and to whip up the frenzy that will encourage ticket sales. It's not a bad thing and should be encouraged to influence more armchair soccer supporters into the stadium to watch the real thing.
“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.  “We feel that Tulsa is a great soccer market, and this return is long overdue.
“We think the USL PRO structure and its partnership with Major League Soccer provide the city of Tulsa with the best opportunity to have a successful and long-term franchise,” Melega said.  “Over the years, Major League Soccer has looked closely at successful USL teams when selecting expansion cities, such as with Orlando moving to MLS in 2015.  If the fans of Tulsa support the return of professional, outdoor soccer to the city, we feel that Tulsa has an excellent chance to move onto the radar of Major League Soccer as they consider future expansion cities.”

Tulsa join Colorado Springs as being announced as 2015 franchise additions and with Sacramento and OKC joining the 2014 ranks, the USL Pro is nearing in on the 20 club mark as more additions are being considered for approval and announcement in the coming weeks.

You can follow Region3Soccer on Twitter @region3soccer or on Facebook at Region ThreeSoccer -

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