La Liga’s Rayo Vallecano de Madrid has teamed with local businessman Sean Jones to establish a North American Soccer League (NASL) club in Oklahoma City. Rayo OKC will begin play in the 2016 NASL Spring Season.
The club unveiled its official name, crest, and red and white color scheme at a press conference in Yukon, Okla., on Tuesday afternoon. The name, Rayo OKC, directly reflects its unique partnership with Rayo Vallecano de Madrid, which becomes the first Spanish La Liga side to invest in a pro soccer club in North America.
“Our launch of Rayo OKC is another groundbreaking addition to the international soccer community,” NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson said. “The club’s unique partnership with Rayo Vallecano de Madrid highlights the global nature of the game and the global vision of the league. Rayo OKC will be the first American club able to take advantage of the expertise of La Liga to identify top players and build its roster accordingly.”
Raúl Martín Presa (pictured above), owner of Rayo Vallecano since 2011, will be the majority owner of the Oklahoma City club. Under Martín Presa’s leadership, Rayo has seen steady growth on and off the field, remaining in Spain’s top tier for all five seasons he has been in charge. La Liga is widely regarded as one of the strongest leagues in Europe, with 15 UEFA Champions League titles under its belt. Two of its clubs – Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona – are ranked among the most valuable sports teams in the world.
“Pro soccer fans in Oklahoma have just been served up a true winner,” Peterson said. “With what will be an incredibly strong connection to the La Liga side in Madrid, Rayo OKC will set the competition bar even higher across North America. The potential this partnership brings to the game is unmatched, and we believe that fans in Oklahoma just got a front row seat to the next level of soccer in this country.”
Oklahoma native Sean Jones joins Martín Presa as the club’s minority owner. Jones owns and operates The Broadway Clinic, Mariposa MedSpa, and several other Oklahoma City area health care companies. He also owns Oklahoma City FC, which advanced to the 2015 WPSL Final Four this past summer.
Sold Out Strategies, co-owned by local sports executives Brad Lund and DeBray Ayala, will serve as managing partners for the expansion club. Lund and Ayala have more than 40 years of combined experience in sports management and marketing in Oklahoma City, most notably serving as the lead executives for the Oklahoma City Blazers minor-league ice hockey team (1992-2008). Former Blazers executive Eric Newendorp has been named the general manager of Rayo OKC. Newendorp has more than 20 years of sales and marketing experience in professional sports, most recently with the WNBA’s Tulsa Shock.
“It’s an honor to have our brand aligned with all of the fantastic clubs and cities in the NASL,” said Martín Presa. “We’re excited to become a part of the community in Oklahoma City, and we look forward to putting a world-class team on the pitch.”
Oklahoma City’s NASL club will play its home games at Miller Stadium – a new $17 million facility – on the campus of Yukon High School. The stadium has fixed seating of 6,500, that can be expanded to 11,000 for pro soccer games. Miller Stadium features a split-level press box for working media, and luxury suites for guests. The stadium also has a large video board on the north end, a 24,000-square-foot wellness center, and an on-site parking capacity of 2,500 spaces.