Is Tulsa in line for a professional soccer team? It's a test run, one that could go a long way in determining whether Tulsa will land a major league soccer expansion franchise.
Thursday the league announced that the Kansas City Wizards will take on the Dallas Burn in an exhibition game on April 5th at Skelly Stadium. The turnout is just one thing MLS will take into consideration when determining whether or not to put a team in the city.
City leaders say soccer would provide a huge, new entertainment opportunity for the city. But as News on Six reporter Steve Berg explains, they say it's our "past" that gives us an edge.
You're invited to party like it's 1979. Mayor Bill Lafortune, "It is my honor and privilege to announce Major League Soccer Saturday in Tulsa." The exhibition game at Skelly Stadium between Dallas and Kansas City is proceded a few weeks earlier by a similar MLS exhibition in Oklahoma City. Nobody will say it directly, but with the games so close together, it seems Tulsa and Oklahoma City are going head-to-head to see who gets the franchise.
Mayor Lafortune, "It's gonna be either Tulsa or Oklahoma City, who has the most support, in the case of traditional support and a proven track record, Tulsa has it." That would be the Tulsa Roughnecks, who used to draw more fans than the "current" Major League average on a regular basis. Officials think there's an even bigger support base now.
"We have even greater youth involvement and youth soccer involvement, youth soccer organizations than we did 20 years ago." University of Tulsa soccer coach Tom McIntosh says he wants today's kids to have the kinds of memories that he has of the Roughnecks. "I remember going down on the field after the game and waiting outside the locker room for guys to come out and sign autographs, and all those great memories and that's something we've been without for an awful long time."
And while spectators watch the game, Major League Soccer officials will be watching the spectators, specifically, how many.
Once again, Major League Soccer is holding an exhibition match between the Dallas Burn and the Kansas City Wizards on Saturday, April 5th at 2 PM at Skelly Stadium in Tulsa.
Tickets are expected to range from $7 to $13.