The Oklahoma City Energy Football Club (aka Energy FC) came to Oklahoma with one goal in mind in 2014. The soccer franchise wanted to be the type of organization that could have a major impact on and off the field. In the short time that the Energy Football Club has been a part of the city's sports landscape they have done just that. “I think the presence and impact have been large on and off the field,” said Jason Hawkins, Energy Football Club General Manager. “Obviously, we’re a club that prides ourselves in really using soccer as a cause and we’re really the communities' team. Can you say we’ve raised the bar on all levels in terms of the game soccer? Absolutely. It’s important to us that our players are very assessable in the community. It’s one of the things we pride ourselves on.”
The Energy Football Club found a home at the 7,500-seat Taft Stadium (NW 27th Street) in 2015. Known as the “Community Stadium,” it’s located in the heart of one of Oklahoma City’s oldest residential areas and was built as part of the Works Progress Administration initiative in 1934.
For the dedicated fans who are looking for more than just the game atmosphere, a tailgating area has been set up between the stadium and Taft Middle School. It opens two hours before kick-off and closes 30 minutes after the game concludes.
“Since day one it’s been strong. It was amazing to see the number of followers we gained right off the bat,” Hawkins said. “That really showed us the belief that it was the communities team. All the way back when the brand first launched there was an immediate affection from the community. Part of the reason to move into Taft Stadium was that it was a crown jewel. But to be honest, we needed somewhere that had more capacity. It’s not uncommon for us to end up in a standing room only at some of our games.”
The Energy Football Club uniform stands out from the crowd of other football clubs around the nation. The logo incorporates Oklahoma native American roots with symbols such as an Indian battle shield, Eagles Feathers, a peace pipe and olive branch.
Bathed in the states colors of green and white, the uniform is distinctive and easily identifiable,
Fans can find the Energy Football Club gear at the team stores at 1001 North Broadway in downtown Oklahoma City or at the Crossroads in South OKC. Go online at shop.energyfc.com to find hats, jerseys, scarves, jackets, etc. to find the perfect outfit for the next Energy FC game.
The football club have made it quite easy to find tickets for home contests. They can be purchased online at EnergyFC.com or in person at The Soccer Store (1512 SW 29th) or the Energy FC store (NW 9th & Broadway). Patrons can also call (405) 235-KICK (5425) to purchases individual game tickets or season packages. The box office at Taft Stadium opens at Noon on game days.
One of the team’s community involvement projects is the Fields in Future, in which $2 from every ticket sold is reinvested into the Oklahoma City School District.
The Energy FC are part of the minor league affiliation of the Sporting Kansas City in the MLS and have made it their goal to have an impact in Oklahoma City. In just two years, the Energy FC has made one of the biggest turnarounds in the league. They went from not making the postseason in 2014 to playing for the conference championship in 2015.
With former Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Neilsen as the team’s only head coach, the Energy FC have quickly become a force to be reckoned within the USL.
The rise of the Energy FC has not gone unnoticed by its biggest supporters. The team’s average attendance in 2015 was 4,635 per home game.
The core of the team’s fan base is made up of a group belonging to The Grid (thegridokc.org), an “independent supporter” group of the Energy FC that was founded in 2014. On their website, they describe the fan base as “a passionate, aggressive group of supporters who take great pride in making Taft Stadium the hardest place for opposing teams to play within the country.”
“The biggest testament is people coming out to the games and supporting the teams,” Hawkins said. “We’re also very proud of the base, the loyal supporters that we’ve got. We have a very proud supporters group in the Grid. But we’ve also got a second supporters group that has popped up in the Hispanic community. I describe like a snowball that continues to get larger and larger as it gains more and more momentum.”
Author: Michael Kinney