by Justin C. Cliburn
Note: This post now has a permanent home on the OIL Web site that is continually updated.
The other day I rambled about Super Bowl stories that interest me (few do other than the game itself). Somehow I ended up discussing what the chances were that Oklahoma City could one day land an NFL franchise, what the name should be, where they might play, and more.
For the record, I ended up settling on Roughnecks for the team mascot. But all that was buried in a post about the Super Bowl, so it was easily overlooked. So let's consider Oklahoma City's NFL chances in a post all its own.
I generally laugh at suggestions that Oklahoma City could be granted an NFL franchise, but I used to scoff at the prospects of a successful NBA team here too. Plus, a couple recent lists of potential NFL cities included OKC. It made me strongly consider what the authors of the lists saw and make the case for OKC. It's actually not a hard case to make. Sure, there are plenty of markets that are as deserving or more, but that's always the case. The slam dunks already have NFL teams (well, except for one), so why not OKC? After all, the OKC media market is larger than four current NFL cities. Well, here's the case for OKC:
Cover32 lists 10 possible NFL cities on page two of its article discussing which NFL teams should relocate. EliteDaily just listed 10 potential NFL cities back in November. And both lists include Oklahoma City.
The OIL is made up primarily of Oklahomans, so we know how much OKC has grown. An NFL team would be fantastic from a personal standpoint. Plus, it's not a stretch to think that it would attract season ticket holders from:
That's a pool of over 3.5 million people to sell tickets. And when you tally the populations of Oklahoma as a state, Fort Smith/Van Buren, and the Amarillo, Wichita, and Wichita Falls metros, the number comes to over 4.9 million potential ticket-buyers. Are you telling me savvy marketers in charge of an NFL franchise couldn't sell 50,000 tickets in a market that large?
What would be the name of this hypothetical NFL franchise? Cover32 lists the Raiders as a good candidate to relocate to OKC but I just don't see it. If the Adams family would allow it, I'd love to see a resurrection of the "Oilers" moniker. But the Titans still hold the rights to the Oilers name and, if they wouldn't sell those rights to the new Houston franchise back in 2002, odds are OKC doesn't stand a chance. The AHL's OKC Barons have a great logo, but that name is taken. It looks as if they strongly considered Roughnecks before settling on Barons. So, what about Roughnecks? I'd be partial to that name. I like team mascots that say something about the people the teams represent. And for an OKC NFL team to succeed it will have to speak to the area as a whole. Oklahoma, north and west Texas, Kansas, and west Arkansas can all relate to the name Roughnecks.
Plus, the major corporate sponsors in Oklahoma would love the name. Think of the branding and marketing opportunities sponsors like Chesapeake and Devon would jump all over. Oil field workers all across Oklahoma, north and west Texas, Arkansas and Kansas would feel "ownership" of the name. It would be Oklahoma's Packers, Steelers or 49ers. But now I'm getting ahead of myself.
I'd love to see it happen. And the Thunder has shown that we have the corporate sponsors to support a professional sports franchise. The question is if we have enough to cover two, though. And you'd be naive to think that the Thunder ownership group would welcome an NFL team in their market. They would lobby and fight like hell to keep one away. That's not meant to denigrate the Thunder ownership group. Resisting competition for consumers is the smart business decision. Plus, the Thunder could always threaten to relocate if it's not the only game in town. It's not like it hasn't happened before.
Football is big business for both schools. OU has been OKC's de facto pro football team up until now (although OSU has made a recent run at the title). It's not crazy to consider what role the state's two largest universities would play in the politics surrounding an NFL expansion franchise.
And where would a stadium even go? Who would pay for it? Would tax-hating Oklahoma vote to fund an NFL-caliber stadium? These are all questions that pump the brakes on NFL talk. So, for now, my dream of an NFL franchise in Oklahoma City is just that: a dream.
Still, I wish UniWatch would run some sort of logo/uniform design contest for my hypothetical Roughnecks (like it did for what became the Thunder).
What do you think? What did I forget? Let me know in the comments. Do you think I'm crazy? No problem. You won't hurt my feelings. I've been to war and back . . . no, really.
UPDATE: UniWatch linked to this post to help solicit logo and uniform designs. The new OIL post has more information on the request for submissions. Depending on the number of submissions, the winner may receive officially-licensed OklahomIraqis League merchandise.
Send submissions to OklahomIraqis@gmail.com