The North American Soccer League Board of Governors has OK’d expansion to both Jacksonville, FL and Oklahoma City, OK as the NASL continues to grow along with MLS.
The two cities beat out two other unnamed cities for the bids, and will join the NASL for the start of the 2015 season.
The Sunshine Soccer Group led the Jacksonville bid as the city becomes the third to house a team within the state of Florida. SSG is led by Mark Frisch and former FC Dallas goalkeeper Dario Sala.
Frish said after hearing of their successful bid, “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.”
“I have seen first hand the desire the Jacksonville community has for a professional soccer team to call its own and believe this is a great move for soccer in Florida” added NASL commissioner Bill Peterson.
The addition of an NASL team in Jacksonville is the second boost for the sport in the city in the last month. Two weeks ago Jaguars owner purchased Premier League side Fulham and announced they will play at least one friendly at EverBank Stadium within the next year.
OKC Pro Soccer LLC, led by businessman Tim McLaughlin, ran the Oklahoma City bid. McLaughlin announced the group will refurbish Taft Stadium to play in, where Northwest Classen High School and John Marshall High School both play.
Commissioner Peterson commended the patience the city showed in developing their bid. “The Board of Governors has recognized a carefully crafted bid from OKC Pro Soccer LLC, who waited patiently to build a strong platform that will ensure NASL soccer thrives in Oklahoma City.”
The NASL has gone all-in on expansion recently. The New York Cosmos will return for the second half of this season as the league returns to eight teams, while three more will be added for next year (Ottawa, Virginia, Indianapolis) before these two join in 2015.