Three Local Brothers New Owners of Tulsa Roughnecks

Aug 20, 2019

Ryan (left) and J.W. Craft pose for a photo with USL Soccer Executive Vice President Court Jeske. J.W., Ryan and Kyle Craft are the new owners of the Tulsa Roughnecks after buying the team from the Tulsa Drillers organization for an undisclosed amount.
Credit Tulsa Roughnecks

The Tulsa Roughnecks pro soccer team has been sold to three brothers from the city.

J.W., Ryan and Kyle Craft — sons of wealthy coal man Joseph Craft III — bought the team from the Tulsa Drillers organization for an undisclosed amount. Similar teams have been valued at $15 million to $20 million.

Ryan Craft said there are a few reasons they took the plunge.

"First and foremost, it’s about the community. We’re incredibly excited about this opportunity to be able to ensure that a professional sports tram has a future in Tulsa, Oklahoma," Ryan Craft said.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said sports have great potential to bring together people from all walks of life.

"And I’ve seen what the Tulsa Roughnecks can mean to this community in drawing people together," Bynum said.

The Crafts said no big changes are in order with two months left in the United Soccer League Championship season, though fans will see some tweaks to the gameday experience right away. The new owners plan to lean on the community in the offseason as they try to improve the team and get more fans to the matches.

"We realize this will not happen automatically. It’s hard work. It will take time. But I can promise you that we’re going to go out in the community and actively engage people in ways maybe this club has not done before," J.W. Craft said.

The team has seen a steep drop in attendance since its first season in 2015, and there were rumors the club may fold. The Roughnecks will continue playing at ONEOK Field, but the Crafts are interested in moving into a soccer-specific stadium.

The Roughnecks are currently 17th in the 18-team USL Championship Western Conference, with four wins, 13 losses and seven draws. They're 13 points out of a playoff spot.

The Roughnecks have 10 games left in the 2019 season, seven of them at home. Their next game is Aug. 28 against Las Vegas Lights FC.