The North American Soccer League has approved new expansion teams in Jacksonville, Florida, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to begin play for the 2015 spring season. The NASL Board of Governors received presentations from groups representing four prospective expansion cities as part of two days of meetings being held in Dallas.
“We are delighted to be expanding to two cities that clearly have a passion for soccer, where we believe local fans will be excited to welcome our newest teams,” said NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson. “We have considered expansion to cities that meet specific criteria and most importantly have strong ownership groups that will provide a long and stable future for the NASL in those markets, which we clearly have in both Jacksonville and Oklahoma City.”
Mark Frisch and former professional soccer player Dario Sala of the Sunshine Soccer Group, which staged a Mexico Primera League exhibition game at EverBank Field in the city earlier this month, led the successful Jacksonville bid.
“I am thrilled to have helped lead an effort to bring pro soccer back to Jacksonville,” said Frisch. “I am very grateful for all the support from the city and the fans leading up to this day. I know the fans out there have been waiting for this moment for a long time. I cannot wait to go out and meet them all personally and talk the beautiful game of soccer in Jacksonville.”
Oklahoma City businessman Tim McLaughlin presented to the NASL Board of Governors on behalf of OKC Pro Soccer LLC, which has already secured the rights to plays its games at Taft Stadium in Oklahoma City.
“Bringing a high-level professional soccer club to Oklahoma City is going to add an exciting new sports dimension to our city and state,” said McLaughlin. “We look forward to working with the NASL to give our community a soccer team and game experience people will be talking about for many years to come.
The expansion will bring the league to 14 teams. The league has eight active teams, but will add the New York Cosmos for the upcoming fall season. In 2014, three additional teams will join the league in Ottawa, Indianapolis and Loudon County, Virginia.