Pro soccer: NASL approves Oklahoma City, Jacksonville as expansion sites

The Oklahoma City team will begin play in the spring of 2015. The team will play home games at refurbished Taft Stadium.
BY RHIANNON WALKER, Staff Writer, rwalker@opubco.com Modified: July 25, 2013 at 5:04 pm •  Published: July 25, 2013
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The North American Soccer League's Board of Governors on Thursday unanimously approved expansion franchises in Oklahoma City and Jacksonville, Fla. Both franchises will begin play in the 2015 spring season.

The NASL board received presentations from groups representing four prospective expansion cities as part of two days of meetings being held in Dallas.

“We are delighted to be expanding to two cities that clearly have a passion for soccer, where we believe local fans will be excited to welcome our newest teams,” said NASL commissioner Bill Peterson. “We have considered expansion to cities that meet specific criteria and most importantly have strong ownership groups that will provide a long and stable future for the NASL in those markets, which we clearly have in both Jacksonville and Oklahoma City.”

Tim McLaughlin, an Oklahoma City native, presented to the NASL Board of Governors on behalf of OKC Pro Soccer LLC, which has already secured the rights to plays its games at Taft Stadium.

“Bringing a high-level professional soccer club to Oklahoma City is going to add an exciting new sports dimension to our city and state,” said McLaughlin. “We look forward to working with the NASL to give our community a soccer team and game experience people will be talking about for many years to come.

“We are especially excited to know that bringing this level of professional soccer to our market will also help the local schools, whose historic Taft Stadium we will play in when it is remodeled and refurbished to its former glory.  We will create a revenue source for the local community, because every ticket we sell will benefit inner city schools.  To say we are excited and overwhelmed is an understatement.”

Peterson added: “The Board of Governors has recognized a carefully crafted bid from OKC Pro Soccer LLC, who waited patiently to build a strong platform that will ensure NASL soccer thrives in Oklahoma City.  Like their Jacksonville counterparts, they have almost two full years to prepare an unrivaled coaching staff, player roster and venue to create a team that local fans will be proud to support.”