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July 19, 2013

Soccer war rumbles in OKC as plans clash

OKLAHOMA CITY —

Ten years ago, professional soccer was still fighting for fame in the American sports landscape.

Times have changed.

This is evident by the fact that two different management groups are currently planning on two completely separate teams to begin playing in Oklahoma City within the next two years. As their efforts unfold, it has become clear they overlap in more ways than one way, and caught in the middle is Oklahoma City's soccer future and its soccer fans. Mayor Mick Cornett has taken up a spectator's role.

"I'll admit, it's interesting," Cornett said. "There is definitely a void for soccer. I think the marketplace is there to sort that out."

In one corner, there's Prodigal LLC, who earlier this summer announced they will have a team to play in the United Soccer Leagues PRO (USL PRO) league starting in spring of next year. To top that, on Wednesday Prodigal -- the same company that runs Oklahoma City Barons hockey team -- revealed plans to build a 7,000 seater soccer-specific stadium, with an option to expand it to 20,000 seats. In the much more distant future, Prodigal has indicated they might like to move the team into the pinnacle of American soccer, Major League Soccer (MLS), assuming their club becomes as popular as they anticipate.

The challenger: Sold Out Strategies, who is currently in talks with the North American Soccer League (NASL) about creating a completely separate team to play in their league in the spring of 2015. In addition, Mayor Cornett says based on talks he has had with SOS co-owner Brad Lund, they also have long-term plans to build their own soccer specific stadium in the city.

This means that, at some point, Oklahoma City could have two separate professional teams in two different leagues competing for the same fans and resources. 

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