OKC Energy FC is pitching a new 10,000-seat stadium that could be expanded for MLS, as backers of the plan are lobbying for its inclusion in a MAPS 4 ballot.
Under plans submitted to Oklahoma City mayor David Holt on Thursday, USL Championship‘s OKC Energy could build a new soccer-specific stadium in the city’s downtown area. The facility would cost an estimated $65 to $80 million for construction–plus an additional $6 to $12 million for land acquisition–and be built with an initial seating capacity of 10,000. It would be designed to have the ability to host events such as concerts, rugby, lacrosse, and football in addition to professional soccer. Furthermore, the facility could be expanded as part of a potential second phase to accommodate an MLS club.
The goal for the club’s ownership is to have the new OKC Energy stadium included in a potential MAPS 4 ballot later this year. Ultimately, the club feels that building a stadium to the proposed scale could elevate its USL Championship operations while helping the market attract the attention of MLS. More from NewsOK:
“It fits with where we are at with the USL,” said Bob Funk Jr., co-owner of the Energy FC. “We would make it expandable so that we can do a phase two if or when we are ready to make it to MLS. If we build a 10,000-seat stadium, it sends a message we are serious about professional soccer. If we don’t, that makes it that much more difficult.”
Funk said the Energy experienced a leveling out in attendance that was typical of franchises in their fifth year and that season ticket sales are resurging and attendance is steady. He also acknowledged the team briefly considered a proposal by the developers of Chisholm Creek to build a temporary stadium in the northwest Oklahoma City development, but no such move remains under consideration….
Renderings released Thursday show how the stadium would look if built as part of a larger development at the former Producers Cotton Oil Mill property south of Lower Bricktown and reflect a plan contemplated by Funk when he and a group of investors had a contract to buy the 37 acres in 2016.
“We think the cotton mill site or Strawberry Fields could work,” Funk said. “We don’t think we should make the decision. MAPS is always about community stakeholders making the decision and that’s what we think should happen here.”
Building a stadium that is expandable to MLS standards is something that other clubs have done in the past. For instance, Montreal Impact’s Saputo Staidum opened in 2008 as an NASL facility and was expanded in 2012 to coincide with Impact’s first season of MLS play, while San Antonio’s expansion bid proposed expanding San Antonio FC’s Toyota Field, and a Louisville City FC stadium opening in 2020 will also have the ability to expand for MLS.
Whether the same type of model is employed in Oklahoma City remains to be seen, as backers will have to lobby city officials to have the stadium proposal included in the MAPS 4 ballot. More information on MAPS programs can be found on Oklahoma City’s website.