NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson confirmed last month to Indy Week that an investment group from Oklahoma City, OK has been formally invited to join the NASL Board of Governors at their July meeting on the 25th to present their proposal for an expansion team in their home city.
The potential Oklahoma City franchise ownership group is headed by Tim McLaughlin, Vice President and general partner of AdvancePierre Foods, a foodservice manufacturer and distributor headquartered in Cincinnati, OH. McLaughlin previously acted as the point man for the investment group that brought a USL PDL team to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma City FC, which began play this season. According to Indy Week, McLaughlin is also involved with Field and Futures, which is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit campaign that works to help renovate and improve athletic fields in Oklahoma City.
McLaughlin’s group is partnering with Sold Out Strategies, a sports marketing and management firm also based in Oklahoma City. Sold Out Strategies’ Brand Lund, who served as the lead executive for minor league hockey team, the Oklahoma City Blazers, from 1992-2008, will serve as managing partner for the alliance with McLaughlin’s group. Lund and team have been hard at work preparing for the arrival of an NASL team in Oklahoma City, most importantly finding the team a place to play. On June 17th, the Oklahoma City Board of Public Schools awarded the group a two-year lease for recently renovated Taft Stadium, with the option to renew, according to a NewsOK article.
Coincidentally enough, Lund beat out Bob Funk Jr., owner and president of Prodigal LLC, who pleaded with the Oklahoma School Board to grant his company the lease to Taft Stadium to house a potential USL Pro expansion franchise. The stadium, originally constructed in 1934, currently acts as home to the Oklahoma City Lightning, a National Women’s Football Association team, and two different OKC area high schools, John Marshall HS and Northwest Classen HS. The Board ultimately awarded Lund and team the 2-year lease, with the option to renew, giving the group ample time if needed to bring an NASL expansion franchise to the area, assuming all goes well at the NASL Board meeting on the 25th of this month.
Lund commented to NewsOK regarding his victory over Prodigal LLC at the School Board meeting, saying,
It’s a big day for sports in Oklahoma City. We’re going to be bringing an extremely high level of world-class soccer to Taft Stadium. Personally it’s a dream of mine. I grew up playing, I met my wife playing soccer, and it’s a special, special day for Oklahoma City, not just soccer fans, but sports fans in general.
Though figures were not discussed in any of the articles with regard to the agreed upon rent for Taft Stadium or the NASL franchise expansion fee that the group will need to cover, this news marks a significant investment in professional soccer in the middle of the country, an area that has been all but forgotten in terms of soccer development in recent years, except for perhaps Kansas City, with the majority of expansions and league buzz focused on the two coasts. In a matter of just a couple of years, Oklahoma City could be set to play host to a USL PDL squad as well as USL Pro, and an NASL franchise. If McLaughlin, Lund, and Funk Jr. all get their way, Oklahoma City soccer fans will certainly have their hands full.