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Support grows for Tulsa Athletic after league suspension

Posted at 3:09 PM, May 20, 2024

TULSA, Okla. — Support is growing across the country for Tulsa Athletic after the National Premier Soccer League abruptly suspended the team for the season.

The Tulsa Athletic is an amateur sports team that plays at Hicks Park and is the reigning 2023 NPSL National Champions.

Sonny Dalesandro, Co-Owner of the Tulsa Athletic, says they were given no specific reason for the suspension.

"If you cite X, Y, or Z of where we are deficient, we will fix that,” he said.

Dalesandro calls the lack of clarity unacceptable. He was aware that the league had problems with Hicks Park and hadn’t approved the use of the field for the 2024 season.

In a lawsuit, the team claims they spent a significant amount of money on improvements to the park and that the NPSL is “irrationally and unreasonably” refusing to approve the location.

Dalesandro said the league pointed to many problems with the park that didn’t make sense. For example, the league claims it is an open park.

“It is not an open park; there is an eight-foot fence around it,” he said. “We were told the playing fields were an issue. Honestly, this is one of the nicer parks in Tulsa right now.”

This isn’t the team's first venue obstacle. After playing a few seasons at the old Drillers stadium, which was demolished, the team had to find a new home.

Dalesandro said he worked tirelessly with the City of Tulsa to get exclusive rights to Hicks Park that would align with league standards.

“I’m not a millionaire. We do this because we think it benefits our community in a positive way,” Dalesandro said.

Dalesandro is convinced it is more of a personal issue. Dan Hoedeman, Co-Founder of Minneapolis City Soccer Club, agrees.

“What about the players? They are ready to play for the summer, and they get the rug pulled out from underneath them after the rest of the league has already started playing?” he said.

Hoedeman launched a “Save Tulsa” T-shirt with proceeds benefiting the A’s legal fund. Hoedeman said they joined the league because of Dalesandro’s leadership.

“He was really instrumental in helping Minneapolis join the NPSL,” he said.

Hoedeman said venue issues are typically not a big deal. He adds that professional teams with higher standards have played at Hicks Park.

“U.S. Soccer deems their stadium acceptable to host pro teams, and [Tulsa Athletic] is not allowed to play in the NPSL? C’mon. There is simply no reasonable way there is not something else happening here.”

Dalesandro said they were still working with the league on the venue issue when they were abruptly suspended.

2 News reached out to the NPSL but would not comment on the situation, citing the pending litigation.

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