Sports in Oklahoma City

Oklahoma City is home to several professional sports teams, including the Oklahoma City Thunder of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The Thunder is the city's second "permanent" major professional sports franchise after the now-defunct AFL Oklahoma Wranglers and is the third major-league team to call the city home when considering the temporary hosting of the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets for the 2005–06 and 2006–07 NBA seasons.

Other notable professional sports clubs in Oklahoma City include the Oklahoma City Dodgers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Crusaders of Oklahoma Rugby Football Club USA Rugby

Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, home of the Oklahoma City Dodgers and the Big 12 Conference baseball tournament.

VenuesEdit

Paycom Center in downtown Oklahoma City is the large multipurpose arena which hosts concerts, NHL exhibition games, and many of the city's pro sports teams. In 2008, the Oklahoma City Thunder became the major tenant. Located nearby in Bricktown, the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark is the home to the city's baseball team, the Dodgers. "The Brick", as it is locally known, is considered one of the finest minor league parks in the nation.

 
Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.

There are several other stadiums and arenas in the city, including the arena inside the Cox Convention Center (where Blue home games are held), the State Fair Arena, Taft Stadium, USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium, and Abe Lemons Arena which is located at Oklahoma City University.

MacArthur Park Raceway is an internationally recognized raceway in Oklahoma City.

Other sporting eventsEdit

Oklahoma City is the annual host of the Big 12 Baseball Tournament, the World Cup of Softball, and the annual NCAA Women's College World Series. The city has held the 2005 NCAA Men's Basketball First and Second round and hosted the Big 12 Men's and Women's Basketball Tournaments in 2007 and 2009. Since 2006, Oklahoma City has been home to the annual Bricktown Showdown Triple-A Baseball Championship game.

Other major sporting events include Thoroughbred and Quarter horse racing circuits at Remington Park and numerous horse shows and equine events that take place at the state fairgrounds each year. There are numerous golf courses and country clubs spread around the city in addition to tennis clubs and high school level sporting activities including the well known "Polo Bowl" between Casady School (Cyclones) and Heritage Hall School (Chargers).

 
Chesapeake Energy Arena, home of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

ThunderEdit

 
Kevin Durant dunking against the Wizards on March 11, 2011.

On July 2, 2008, the National Basketball Association (NBA)'s Seattle SuperSonics franchise announced the team would relocate to Oklahoma City, and begin play at the city's sports arena (then known as the Ford Center) starting with the 2008–09 NBA season. On July 2, the city of Seattle settled with the ownership group of the SuperSonics franchise, allowing them to move the team immediately. As part of the settlement, the SuperSonics name, logos, and colors were left in Seattle for any use by a future expansion or relocated team in Seattle. The franchise history would be shared between the hypothetical team and the Thunder.[1][2] The relocated team was named the Oklahoma City Thunder and color scheme for the Oklahoma City Thunder was announced on September 3.[3] Other name finalists for the relocated team included "Energy", "Wind", "Marshalls", "Barons", and "Bison".[4]

With a 28–2 vote by its Board of Governors, on April 18, 2008, the NBA had provided conditional approval for the franchise to move to Oklahoma City for the 2008–09 season provided the ownership could free themselves from the legal challenges that existed with the city of Seattle.[5] On July 2, 2008, the city of Seattle reached an agreement to terminate the Sonics' lease and allow the team to relocate to Oklahoma City. Clay Bennett determined that as of July 3, 2008 the relocation of the now-defunct Seattle SuperSonics would commence. The team was the fourth NBA franchise to relocate since 1985; the Kansas City Kings moved to Sacramento, the Vancouver Grizzlies to Memphis and the Charlotte Hornets to New Orleans.[6]

In April 2010, the Thunder secured a position in the NBA's Western Conference Playoffs, having its best season since the mid-1990s and winning two games in a series against the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. In 2012, the team made it to the playoff finals, but lost their championship opportunity to the Miami Heat. According to Forbes, the first year the team was in Oklahoma City, the Thunder earned $111,000,000 in revenue. This is considered to be an overwhelming success and ranks them in the 20th position in the NBA. The team's operating income of $12.7 million was on par with such veteran NBA franchises as the Boston Celtics, who earned $12.9 million and far exceeding the net operating losses of the Dallas Mavericks and the Portland Trail Blazers of -$17.4 and -$20.3 respectively.

SoccerEdit

Two sides have emerged in the race for an Oklahoma City professional soccer team. On July 2, 2013, 3rd division USL Pro awarded a franchise to Prodigal LLC, an OKC-based event management company. Prodigal has partnered with ADG in building a 7,000 seat soccer-specific stadium, with the ability to expand to 20,000 to meet MLS standards. Prodigal CEO Bob Funk Jr stated, "We look forward to working with ADG to design a stadium that can serve the needs of our USL PRO team, and also expand based on our long-term goal of bringing an MLS team to Oklahoma City."[7]

On July 25, 2013, 2nd division NASL awarded a franchise to Sold Out Strategies, led by Brad Lund. As a result, USL sent a cease-and-desist letter to Sold Out Strategies who, in turn, countered with a lawsuit. OKC Pro Soccer LLC businessman Tim McLaughlin now manages the NASL franchise. Both the NASL and USL Pro teams battled for Taft Stadium access to begin their first season. The Oklahoma City School Board awarded the Taft Stadium lease agreement to the NASL franchise.

Since USL Pro holds a player development agreement with MLS, Prodigal Director of Entertainment Darren Ransely noted, "For Oklahoma City, bringing USL Pro is a conjugate path for the future to bring in a MLS team."[8] As the battle between the 2 sides continue, NASL team leader McLaughlin added, "It will be up to the community to decide." [9] The Oklahoma City Energy FC began play in USL Pro, since rebranded as the United Soccer League, in Spring 2014. Rayo OKC began play in the NASL Spring 2016 season, but folded after the NASL's 2016 fall season.

HornetsEdit

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Louisiana, and surrounding areas, the NBA's New Orleans Hornets (now the New Orleans Pelicans) temporarily relocated to the venue then known as Ford Center, playing the majority of its home games there during the 2005–06 and 2006–07 seasons. The team became the first NBA franchise to play regular-season games in the state of Oklahoma.

The team was known as the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets while playing in Oklahoma City and had adopted a split personality of sorts, wearing 'KC neutral' home jerseys (with an KC patch of sorts over an H-alternate jersey) and 'New Orleans' jerseys during away games.

Although some city officials wanted the Hornets to stay in Oklahoma City permanently, the team ultimately returned to New Orleans full-time for the 2007–08 season. The Hornets played their final home game in Oklahoma City during the exhibition season on October 9, 2007, against the Houston Rockets, as a way to say thanks for the temporary hosting. The 'hometown Hornets' won the game 94–92.

Metropolitan area collegiate sportsEdit

Oklahoma City is host to numerous major college and amateur sporting events. The major universities in the area – the University of Oklahoma (located within the metropolitan area in Norman), Oklahoma City University (located in the city proper), and Oklahoma State University – often schedule major basketball games and other sporting events at Chesapeake Energy Arena, although most games are played in their campus arenas.

The Oklahoma City University Stars has a slate of sporting clubs which play on campus including a top-rated rowing program which has events on the Oklahoma River. Of special note, the university had announced its desire to possibly enter the NCAA during the 2007 athletic season.

Collegiate teamsEdit

School Nickname Colors Association Conference Secondary Association(s)
University of Oklahoma Sooners Crimson and Cream NCAA Division I Big 12 ACHA, MCLA
Oklahoma State University Cowboys and Cowgirls Orange and Black
University of Central Oklahoma Bronchos Bronze and Blue NCAA Division II MIAA ACHA
Oklahoma Baptist University Bison Green and Gold GAC
Southern Nazarene University Crimson Storm Crimson and White NCCAA Division I
Oklahoma Christian University Eagles and Lady Eagles Maroon and Grey Heartland NCCAA Division I
Langston University Lions Navy Blue and Orange NAIA SAC
Mid-America Christian University Evangels Red and White NCCAA Division I
Oklahoma City University Stars White and Blue
University of Science and Arts Drovers Green and Gold
Southwestern Christian University Eagles White and Blue NCCAA Division I
Redlands Community College Cougars Red, Yellow, Black and White NJCAA BSC
Rose State College Raiders Blue and Gold
Randall University Saints Blue and Gold NCCAA Southwest Region ACCA

Current metropolitan area teamsEdit

Club Sport League Stadium
OKC Energy FC Soccer United Soccer League Taft Stadium
Oklahoma City 1889 FC National Premier Soccer League University of Central Oklahoma
Oklahoma City Thunder Basketball National Basketball Association Paycom Center
Oklahoma City Blue NBA G League
Oklahoma City Dodgers Baseball Pacific Coast League Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark
Oklahoma City FC Women's soccer Women's Premier Soccer League Casady School
Oklahoma Victory Dolls Flat Track Roller Derby Women's Flat Track Derby Association Arctic Edge Ice Arena
Oklahoma City Ice Hawks Ice hockey Western States Hockey League

Former teamsEdit

Oklahoma City was home to the following defunct sports teams:

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Sonics tell NBA of intent to move SuperSonics to Oklahoma City". ESPN. November 3, 2007. Retrieved April 25, 2008.
  2. ^ "Sonics, city reach settlement". The Seattle Times. July 2, 2008. Retrieved July 2, 2008.
  3. ^ "Thunder Rolls Into Oklahoma City" (PDF) (Press release). National Basketball Association. September 3, 2008. Retrieved September 3, 2008.
  4. ^ "Oklahoma City's new NBA team to get name next week". Associated Press. August 28, 2008. Retrieved August 6, 2015.
  5. ^ "NBA Board of Governors Approve Sonics Move to Oklahoma City Pending Resolution of Litigation". National Basketball Association. April 18, 2008. Retrieved April 18, 2008.
  6. ^ "Oklahoma City's NBA team to be called Thunder". Associated Press. September 3, 2008. Archived from the original on September 7, 2008. Retrieved September 3, 2008.
  7. ^ "Prodigal Partners with ADG to Build Soccer Specific Stadium in OKC". Prodigal.com. Retrieved November 10, 2013.
  8. ^ "Major League Soccer in the Works for Oklahoma City". NewsOn6.com. Retrieved November 10, 2013.
  9. ^ "Ball Control: Two Soccer Team Operators Battle for the Honor of Being OKC's Favorite Football Club". Oklahoma Gazette. Archived from the original on September 20, 2013. Retrieved November 10, 2013.