Amateur Team's Promoters Hope for Professional Soccer's Return

Article excerpt

A new amateur soccer team opens a five-game home schedule at Taft Stadium in May as a member of a regional league which promoters hope will lead to the return of professional soccer to Oklahoma City in the mid-1990s.

The Oklahoma City Spirit, organized as a non-profit club for promotion of youth soccer, is scheduled to open play in the eight-team Lone Star Soccer Alliance on May 12 against Wichita.

Three home games are scheduled in June and one is set for July. League playoffs are Aug. 4 and the league championship game is set for Aug. 11 in Austin, Texas.

All games are scheduled on Saturday nights at 7:30, except for the July 8 contest, set on a Sunday at 2 p.m.

"We hope to make Taft Stadium the place to be on Saturday evenings in the summer, not only this year, but in years to come," said Pete Wilson, president of the Oklahoma City Soccer Club, operator of the Spirit. "We hope to generate some real interest and create a festival atmosphere for the Oklahoma City area."

Tickets will be $4 for adults and $2 for children. Wilson said the club is in the process of putting together discount season ticket packages, family discounts and other promotions. The Spirit is eyeing a downtown location for its offices, and will finalize its ticket distribution system before offering tickets for sale next month.

Coach of the Spirit will be Brian Harvey, coach of the Oklahoma City University soccer team and coach of the Spirit youth soccer program in Oklahoma City since 1986. Harvey also coached the Oklahoma City Slickers of the American Soccer League in 1982-83, the Oklahoma City Stampede of the United Soccer League in 1984, and the Tulsa Tornadoes of the USL in 1985.

All U.S. professional soccer leagues have folded, and Harvey and Wilson agree the best way to build the sport is through a regional system with amateur, semi-pro, and eventually professional teams. …