USL PRO announced that an expansion franchise in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma will join the league for the 2014 season. The announcement was made at a news conference in Oklahoma City. The franchise will be locally owned by Prodigal LLC, led by CEO Bob Funk Jr.
USL PRO is the strongest, best operated and most experienced North American men’s professional soccer league below and in support of MLS, both on and off the field. Focused on franchise stability and longevity, USL PRO features 13 teams in 2013 with more than half boasting a decade or more of operational experience, and the distinction of being the longest standing pro league affiliate member of the US Soccer Federation with over two decades of successful operations.
“We are thrilled about the addition of Oklahoma City for the 2014 season and as our 15th franchise member,” USL President Tim Holt said. “Oklahoma City is a market that passionately supports its professional sports teams and is quickly establishing itself as a soccer hotbed. Bob Funk Jr. and Prodigal LLC are leaders on both fronts in Oklahoma City and we have no doubt that they will produce a successful franchise for many years to come. With not only USL PRO and US Open Cup action, but also exhibitions involving MLS and international clubs coming to Oklahoma City, it is local soccer fans that are the true winners.”
USL PRO is focused on aggressive, but deliberate growth by adding teams fully capable of meeting USL and US Soccer Federation standards, which are located in markets that further promote regional league play. The addition of Oklahoma City is yet another exciting development in USL PRO’s western expansion initiative, with the Phoenix FC Wolves having joined Los Angeles Blues in 2013 and a franchise previously announced for Sacramento, California in 2014. In addition to league play, USL PRO teams will continue to compete in the national Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and various domestic and international exhibitions.
In 2013 USL PRO began a groundbreaking, multi-year partnership with MLS that has further elevated the quality and stature of USL PRO, strengthened the competition in both leagues, and established a solid foundation for future collaboration.
“As we move into USL PRO’s next operational phase, Bob Funk Jr. and Prodigal LLC represent the level of ownership we will be seeking,” USL CEO Alec Papadakis said. “This group meets all of the criteria and requirements, and they offer the caliber of ownership that will be necessary for USL PRO’s future.”
Prodigal LLC is a full service event management company based in Oklahoma City. Prodigal operates the Oklahoma City Barons professional hockey team, co-promotes Professional Bull Riders (PBR) events in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, operates the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo (RNCFR), serves as the co-organizer for the March of Dimes Sports Headliner Banquet and produces the Bricktown 4th Fest and is sales and marketing partner with All College and World Cup of Softball.
“We look forward to joining the USL PRO family,” Prodigal CEO Bob Funk Jr said. “This is a natural progression for our city to bring in top-flight professional soccer. USL PRO’s direct affiliation with Major League Soccer made it the best choice for Oklahoma City.”
Funk Jr. has worked on a variety of project in the sports and entertainment world including Summer and Winter X Games, AND 1 Mix Tape tour as well as Davis and Fed Cup matches. He serves as Chairman of the newly formed Greater Oklahoma City Sports Consortium and is an organizing member for the National Sports Forum. The Funk family also previously owned baseball’s Oklahoma City RedHawks before selling their interest in 2010.
USL PRO: USL PRO is the strongest, best operated and most experienced North American men’s professional soccer league below MLS, both on and off the field. In 2013 USL PRO began a groundbreaking, multi-year partnership with MLS that will enhance the development of professional players in North America, strengthen the competition in both leagues, and establish a solid foundation for future collaboration. Focused on franchise stability and longevity, USL PRO features 13 teams participating in the 2013 season, including expansion teams in Phoenix and Tampa. The league is focused on aggressive but deliberate growth by adding teams fully capable of meeting USL and US Soccer standards, which are located in markets that further promote regional league play. In addition to league play, USL PRO teams compete in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as well as various domestic and international exhibitions. USL PRO is the longest-standing pro league affiliate member of US Soccer.