Oklahoma City is not a finalist for the MLS’ upcoming rounds of expansion, but OKC Energy owner Bob Funk Jr. will not rule out eventual entry to the league.
When the MLS announced its 10 finalists for expansion earlier this month, it did not include Oklahoma City, despite the buzz earlier this year about a possible bid that could include a new stadium. In August, Funk and a group of investors moved forward with a plan to acquire a 37-acre parcel that was once used for a Producers Cooperative plant. If that project moves forward, it could include a along with mixed-used development.
Such a plan could be an effective springboard for an MLS bid, but Funk says that he is not quite ready to compose a private/public funding model for the stadium on the league’s schedule, which calls for adding two teams by 2020 and two more at a later time. However, he says that he and fellow Energy owner Tim McLaughlin could still push for expansion down the road. More from NewsOK:
Funk, who has met with [MLS commissioner Don] Garber, respects the commissioner and his declaration that the league will not expand beyond 28 clubs.
But Funk is predicting the league won’t stop at 28 clubs and Oklahoma City will be in prime position for MLS expansion the next time around.
“To just rush it and try to meet a deadline where you don’t have your plan in place and ability to show people these are the steps we are going to take, I think it would be a disservice to the potential opportunity in Oklahoma City,” Funk said.
“I feel like there will be more expansion later after the league closes out 28 teams. If you go back and look at the history of professional sports and major leagues in the United States, no one has ever stopped at 28 teams. There is a massive amount of demand, and (MLS) needs to be cautious and make sure that they are making the appropriate decisions on its expansion. I completely understand that and in fact agree with their business approach.”
Plans for the development are still moving forward, though numerous details–including stadium funding–still need to be resolved. If the development and stadium are finalized, it could be used by the OKC Energy as a USL facility.
Image courtesy OKC Energy.
RELATED STORIES: Property Purchased for Possible OKC Energy Stadium