Oklahoma City soccer team owner wants tax money for new stadium, because “economic boost” and “diversity”

When I relayed the news last week that Oklahoma City’s fourth iteration of its MAPS sales-tax hike was being eyed to fund upgrades to the Thunder‘s arena that was already built and upgraded with previous MAPS sales-tax hikes, I neglected to note that USL team OKC Energy F.C. also wants some tax money for a new soccer stadium, because why wouldn’t they? Their existing stadium was entirely rebuilt way back in 2015, which is a lifetime if you’re a stadium or a mayfly.

Team co-owner Bob Funk, Jr. had this to say about why he’d like between $37 million and $72 million in public money for a new stadium for his minor-league soccer franchise:

“This is an opportunity to once again set our city on a global stage. It will connect and unify Oklahoma City’s diverse cross-section of cultures and provide a powerful economic boost to our urban core.”

Note that Oklahoma City already has a USL team, so that’s not enough to set it on a global stage. (Nor is the presence of the Thunder, apparently, though that “once again” implies that global stages expire about as often as mayflies.) Moving the soccer team from one stadium to another, though, would be a powerful economic boost, something that KFOR explains thusly:

The first option represented a $37 million to $42 million investment for an 8,000-seat stadium that would accommodate soccer, high school football, rugby, lacrosse, concerts and festivals.

Organizers believe it could host more than 60 events each year, which would bring $60 million annually to the city.

The second option was a $67 million to $72 million investment with 10,000 seats, shade structures and other amenities to improve the fan experience. Additional restrooms would be included, along with a larger stage and secondary stage. Organizers say this venue could host more than 80 events each year, which would bring over $79 million to the city.

Okay, so, just no. There is no way that the city is going to earn $79 million a year in rent (or sales taxes or whatever) on 80 events a year at a 10,000-seat stadium — that would be $100 a ticket, which would be a somewhat hefty fee for a team or stadium operator to pay.

Presumably what the “organizers” (which seems to mean Funk and a would-be stadium developer, though the article never says outright, because that would be committing journalism) mean here is $79 million a year in economic impact, which is a completely different thing adding up all the dollars spent in a region connected with a development project. That number is still almost certainly inflated — people attending minor-league soccer matches are unlikely to spend $100 total in the local economy, and even if they do they’d likely spend it just the same if the Energy F.C. were in their old stadium, or didn’t exist at all, because there are other things to do in Oklahoma City other than watch soccer — but saying “in economic impact” would have been at least marginally less misleading than “bring over $79 million to the city.”

Anyway, here‘s some vaportecture of the proposed stadium, which will apparently be used to watch dangerously over-capacity concerts involving fireworks displays at night, and to watch invisible football teams while wearing identical red floppy hats by day. Bonus points if you can spot any diverse cross-section of cultures getting unified!

Share this post:

7 comments on “Oklahoma City soccer team owner wants tax money for new stadium, because “economic boost” and “diversity”

  1. The report in the Oklahoman (paywalled) states that Funk threatened to move the USL team if the new facility is not built. Also that the current stadium’s pitch is below regulation size.

        1. It looks like they’d have to find a way to temporarily cover up part of the track along the sidelines to make the pitch regulation width. Or, you know, spend $72 million to build a whole new stadium:


  2. According to:


    The stadium capacity was just reduced down from 18,000. Of course, which begs the question….how much more money could be made if they had a stadium that large?

  3. Love the vaportecture. In three shots with the video board – the image is not from the action on the field/pitch. For 70 MM would expect a video board not a billboard

    One image show pretty packed crowds and nobody on field – no players, refs, stadium workers. A game is on the Jumbotron. If they are going to sell tickets to watch games on the Jumbotron – they may have more than 80 dates. Probably get fewer than 10k per show.

    My favorite picture is the ESPN farmers market. What we are looking for before we take our seats – a nice plant and pesticide free cucumbers. The clip art while no Worcester does feature a woman without feet, shadows unattached to bodies and the appearance of the identical quintuplet men (Jacksons one to five or someone just Ctrl Ved too many times).

Comments are closed.