Wheeler Park area emerges as top candidate for soccer stadiumPublished: Saturday, July 8, 2017 By: Steve Lackmeyer Source: NewsOK
The search for a new site for a proposed soccer stadium has resumed and Oklahoma City Energy owner Bob Funk Jr. confirms the Wheeler Park area is emerging as a top candidate among several being considered.
Funk Jr., who along with Tim McLaughlin owns the city's only professional soccer team, spent a year negotiating a purchase of 40 acres south of Lower Bricktown that was for decades home to the Producers Cooperative Cotton Oil Mill.
The envisioned project would have included an ambitious mixed-use commercial development adjoining a stadium built to allow the Energy to move up to Major League Soccer. The deal fell apart when the two sides were unable to come to terms.
“Our ambitions haven't changed,” Funk Jr. said. “Our MLS ambitions are still alive and we want to work toward getting there. And to do that, we have to have a stadium.”
The Wheeler Park area spans both sides of the Oklahoma River along Western Avenue and in the city's earliest years was home to Delmar Gardens, a destination that mimicked the beer gardens, rides, restaurants and attractions of Coney Island in the early 1900s.
Much of the land to the south of the river is being developed into housing, retail and offices by Blair Humphreys. The site, once home to the Downtown Airpark, is being called Wheeler and is home to a Ferris wheel that overlooks the river.