Edmond, OK, to get a pro soccer team?
The league recently sent a letter to the mayor concerning their interesting in placing a team in the city for 2009, they just need to find some interested investors.
Here is what the mayor had to say:
"We are interested to begin exploring opportunities to expand United Soccer Leagues (USL) into the City of Edmond. I welcome you to encourage ... potential investment groups to bring USL to Edmond in 2009.”If there is interest and they can find ownership, they will probably play their games at 10,000-seat, University of Central Oklahoma owned, Wantland Stadium.
O'Neil said the city has always been interested in a professional sports team, particularly soccer.
"Now we have to see if there is viable interest from private investors,” O'Neil said. "If there is genuine interest, then we need to get others involved.”
Oddly enough, USL's interest in Edmond sprang from the city's failed bid to land a MLS team back in 2004. Hard to believe that Oklahoma City was in the running at the time.
The hopeful addition of Edmond to USL is part of the league's plan to put more teams in 'the middle part of the county, including the Southwest and Midwest.' Seeing as MLS is pretty much focusing on the costs these days (with some exceptions), this seems like a good plan. They have already added a team in Austin, Texas for the 2009 season, so an additional team in Oklahoma would make for a great rivalry.
The league is also in 'active negotiations with groups in Omaha, Phoenix and San Antonio.'
USL might not have the glitz, glamour and TV contracts of MLS, but it is a very important part of growing the sport in the US. People love cheering for a local team and since MLS cannot reach everyone, USL will need to fill the void. Add this to the chance of seeing a local side take on a MLS 'giant' in US Open Cup competition and you've got a wonderful publicity machine.