Believing that the market is ripe for a professional club, Oakland Pro Soccer is continuing its push to bring a team to Oakland.
Led by Benno Nagel, whose background includes an assistant coaching position with Rayo OKC (NASL) in 2016, Oakland Pro Soccer’s goal is to bring a professional soccer club to Oakland. The group believes that Oakland’s demographics are right for professional soccer, and that the city has enough passion for the sport to support a club on a full-time basis.
Oakland Pro Soccer is working separately from a prominent effort to bring a USL franchise to the area. Real estate entrepreneur Mark Hall has been pitching a Oakland East Bay USL team that would be housed in a new 15,000-seat stadium at the Oakland Coliseum site, and that push continues while backers of Oakland Pro Soccer carry out their own effort.
While it has been working for more than a year, Oakland Pro Soccer has encountered a few obstacles thus far. An attempt to work with the city to secure a site for a new stadium fell through last fall, while there have also been issues with finding a league. Hall’s effort has exclusive territorial rights for the USL, and there are questions surrounding some of the leagues that Oakland Pro Soccer had been in discussions with–including the NASL and the proposed National Independent Soccer Association. More from SFGate.com:
But they hit a roadblock last November when the city of Oakland informed them that they would be unwilling to facilitate a search and acquisition of land in the town, which included possibly acquiring a piece of the Coliseum complex.
“The city said we would love to do this but we can’t,” said Nagel, explaining that with the ongoing negotiations of the A’s was Oakland’s priority….
The organization had been in touch with the NASL, which lost its US Soccer Federation sanctioning last year. A few weeks ago Rocco Commisso, the owner of the NASL’s New York Cosmos pledged 500 million dollars to restart and fund the league. “Yes we have had contact, and there is a lot of interested in Oakland and the Bay Area market in general,” said Nagel. “But there hasn’t been any movement because they still don’t know what their timeline is going to be.”
They also have had conversations with the proposed third division National Independent Soccer Association, founded by Peter Wilt. However, the NISA’s status is in doubt after Wilt said he was leaving the league. It also does not have any announced teams or sanctioning by the US Soccer Federation.
Certainly any effort to secure a site and a league will be major factors in whether Oakland lands a team, but its professional sports scene is in a state where professional soccer could find an opening to thrive. While MLB’s A’s are working to secure a new ballpark in the city, the NFL’s Raiders will relocate to Las Vegas in 2020 and the NBA’s Golden State Warriors will move to a new arena in San Francisco in 2019.
Image courtesy NASL.