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OKC's Soccer War needs one winner

COMMENTARY — Two organizations want to bring professional soccer to Oklahoma City, each playing in a different league. For the fans' sake, it's best if one side wins out.
by Berry Tramel Modified: July 3, 2013 at 11:00 am •  Published: July 2, 2013

Tim Brassfield, vice chairman of the Greater Oklahoma City Sports Consortium, took the podium Tuesday on the Devon Tower's 50th floor and hailed the arrival of the USL PRO soccer league in OKC.

“Some things are obvious,” Brassfield said. “And one thing that's obvious is we need a professional soccer team.”

I couldn't agree more.

But do we need two?

What should have been a day of celebration instead was a day of confusion, much as two weeks ago, when another fledgling franchise, this one in the North American Soccer League, was awarded a lease at Taft Stadium.

I'll try to explain it as best I can a little later, but there's good news. If you're not a hard-core soccer fan, you can just shrug and wait for football or Thunder season.

Alas, there are some soccer loyalists whose emotions have gone from exhilarating to exhaustion at trying to decipher what the heck is going on.

“It's been confusing and it's been troubling,” said John Bratt, an OKC resident and leader of the Red Dirt Brigade, the grassroots soccer fan club that currently supports Oklahoma City FC of the Premier Development League, a summer-league team made up primarily of collegians.

“My hope is that this doesn't divide the city. I want the sport to succeed. It would irk me to no end if this sport died because of boardroom politics or a courtroom gavel. That would devastate me.”

Confused? I'll try to explain it, but you need to pay attention or you're going to be completely lost.

Prodigal LLC, which runs the American Hockey League Barons, has purchased a USL PRO franchise.

USL PRO is basically the top minor league for Major League Soccer.

Bobby Funk Jr. is president of Prodigal, which came out of Express Sports, which owned the old hockey Blazers.

The NASL franchise is owned by a group led by Oklahoma City businessman Tim McLaughlin.

The franchise is set to be run by Brad Lund's Sold Out Strategies. Lund once ran Express Sports and was part of the Blazers for 17 years, before he and Funk Jr. became at odds.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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