Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Kick-Starting Soccer in OKC: Taft Stadium Considered for Big League Play

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Kick-Starting Soccer in OKC: Taft Stadium Considered for Big League Play

Article excerpt

Major renovations to a landmark high school football stadium in Oklahoma City are being planned with professional soccer in mind as well, sources confirmed Thursday.

And there may be competition to secure a pro team for the city. Sold Out Strategies this spring announced that it is now managing a new Premier Developmental League amateur team, Oklahoma City FC, which is preparing for its inaugural game Saturday against the Austin Aztex. Sold Out Strategies partner Brad Lund said OFC's home games will played at Stars Field at Oklahoma City University about a mile away from Taft Stadium on NW 23rd Street.

"We're very aware of the proposed renovations for Taft Stadium and we are in the due-diligence stage of not only reviewing the possibility of playing home games at Taft but bringing pro soccer to Oklahoma City as well, " Lund said Thursday. "We currently own a PDL franchise, which is the highest level of amateur soccer in North America. ... We feel like we will eventually outgrow the capacity at OCU, which is around 1,800."

When asked whether OFC would complement a rumored second sports group in the metro area trying to develop a team, Lund said, "There's only room for one pro soccer franchise in this market; we'll see how it all plays out."

Taft Stadium, 2609 N. May Ave., will soon be closed, as will Speegle Stadium, 500 SW Grand Blvd., for a yearlong upgrade worth a total of $18 million. Taft is the home field of John Marshall and Northwest Classen high schools; Speegle holds games for Capitol Hill, U.S. Grant and Southeast high schools.

Gary Armbruster, principal with Oklahoma City-based MA+ Architecture, said he's excited about the challenge of bringing historic sites up to modern standards without losing their signature charms. The stadiums were built in the 1930s under the federal Works Progress Administration, or WPA.

Armbruster said large portions of the stadiums need to be replaced, but his plans include keeping the WPA rock walls facing the streets because they're symbolic to so many students over the decades. At Taft, other upgrades include new grandstands to seat about 7,500 people, locker rooms, concessions buildings and artificial turf. …

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