United Soccer Leagues awards pro franchise to Oklahoma City

By Rhiannon Walker, Staff Writer, rwalker@opubco.com Published: July 2, 2013
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photo - United Soccer Leagues President Tim Holt, left, and John Allgood, Prodigal's Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing, hold a symbolic soccer jersey during a press conference at the Devon Tower in Oklahoma City, OK, Tuesday, July 2, 2013,  Photo by Paul Hellstern, The Oklahoman
United Soccer Leagues President Tim Holt, left, and John Allgood, Prodigal's Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing, hold a symbolic soccer jersey during a press conference at the Devon Tower in Oklahoma City, OK, Tuesday, July 2, 2013, Photo by Paul Hellstern, The Oklahoman

The venue would need to hold at least 3,000 patrons, but Prodigal is hoping to house between 7,000 and 8,000 fans. At this time, Allgood and his group are not able to say anything further about those vying for a partnership for the venue.

“We know that from a product standpoint — in the stands and entertainment — we've been doing this for a long time,” Allgood said. “Not only at the ballpark, but in hockey arenas, and we've done concerts, and we feel like the product we're going to put on for the fans is going to be equal to the product on the field.”

There is some tension in the Oklahoma City pro soccer world, however.

Monday, Sold Out Strategies, Brad Lund, DeBray Ayala, Sean Jones and Donna Clark filed a lawsuit in response to a “cease and desist” letter sent by the USL. The lawsuit is over the “Covenant Not to Compete” clause in their “Franchise Agreement.”

Holt explained he cannot discuss the parties involved, but explained that USL PRO was very transparent about its relationship with Prodigal LLC and the language in the “Franchise Agreement” was very clear.

While that is being resolved, Oklahoma City soccer fans are left to wonder if this ongoing conflict could spell doom for the future of professional soccer in the city.

“The lawsuit has really kind of complicated things,” John Bratt, the co-founder of the Red Dirt Brigade, Oklahoma City's soccer fan club, said. “If a judge's gavel decides where soccer is in this town, so be it. Although I think that'd be a lousy way to decide the soccer product.

“I can understand ownership groups wanting to battle for supremacy over what's really going to be a good soccer market, I just hope they take care not to wreck what we have. That their concern is first for the sport. I understand they're businessmen and they want to make money, but you have to have a love for the sport too.”

For now, however, Oklahoma City has a professional soccer team. Bob Funk Jr. has a newborn daughter, which is why he was unable to attend the announcement. And Prodigal has a goal to one day obtain a MLS team.

“Oklahoma City is a market that passionately supports its professional sports teams and is quickly establishing itself as a soccer hotbed,” Holt said at the announcement. “Bob Funk Jr. and Prodigal LLC are leaders on both fronts in Oklahoma City and we have no doubt that they will produce a successful franchise for many years to come.

“It is local soccer fans that are the true winners.”

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