Drillers To Bring Professional Soccer Back To Tulsa

Wednesday, December 18th 2013, 5:08 pm
By: Richard Clark

The Tulsa Drillers say they're bringing professional soccer back to town, starting in 2015.

The Drillers announced Wednesday that they're the majority owners of a new USL PRO league team, with Prodigal LLC holding a minority interest in the team.

It will play its 14 home games at ONEOK Field. The team doesn't have a name yet. The owners say they plan to hold a contest to pick a name early next year.

"We are very excited to be involved in bringing a high level of professional, outdoor soccer back to the city of Tulsa," said Drillers General Manager Mike Melega. "We feel that Tulsa is a great soccer market, and this return is long overdue."

The Drillers say it's the first time professional outdoor soccer will be played in Tulsa since the Tulsa Roughnecks' final season in the North American Soccer League in 1984.

The USL PRO league signed a partnership with Major League Soccer earlier this year, pairing some of its teams with MLS teams. The Drillers say that agreement is similar to the one between Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball.

The announcement means Tulsa could have two soccer teams playing in baseball stadiums in 2015.

A semi-pro team called the Athletics started playing in the old Drillers Stadium at 15th and Yale earlier this year.

5/17/2013: Related Story: Professional Outdoor Soccer Returns To Tulsa This Weekend

Athletics Chairman Sonny Dalesandro took to the team's Facebook page to react to the Drillers' announcement.

"The Tulsa Athletics want to bring an MLS franchise to Tulsa. We've been clear about that from the beginning," he wrote.

"Today's announcement as interesting as it may seem, does not actually affect the way we'll approach anything. We're still going to continue to improve our stadium, grow our fan base, and put a fantastic product on the field. I am a Tulsan. A proud one at that. If a group from Oklahoma City thinks that Athletics Nation is going to lay down and quit, then they have read myself and Tulsans all wrong. We made a commitment to you to bring top level soccer to Tulsa, and we will carrying on doing that."