OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Semi-pro football is headed to Oklahoma City, but the league is already throwing a flag on the play, before things even get started.
Oklahoma City was one of fourteen cities chosen for a franchise team under the United Football League.
Last December the United Football League also announced plans to partner with Crossroads Mall – to construct a temporary stadium in a vacant lot on the southside of the shopping mall.
At the time the team said it would eventually replace it with a 10,000 seat stadium as part of a multi-year construction agreement.
Months later, conflicts between the mall representatives and the league may bring that spring kickoff to a halt with allegations of wire fraud and corporate partnership scams, job misrepresentation and an unpaid lease agreement.
Joe McClendon, Commissioner for the UFL said his team became suspicious of wire fraud after receiving a request for a lease payment to an account not directly associated with the mall.
“[We] got wire instructions but it didn’t come on letterhead didn’t come in a form like you would expect,” he said while saying the account was registered to an entity known as Crossroads Convention Center, instead.
While that property occupies the old Dillard’s department store space at the shopping center, it is reportedly owned and managed by CEO Carri Lawrence, who also manages leases for Crossroads Mall.
“We have no business with Crossroads Convention. The mall and the Wranglers had an agreement. Miss Lawrence was merely a representative,” added McClendon.
“I collect the deposits on any of the tenants [and] then I hand the money over to the owners [of the mall],” said Ms. Lawrence.
“There’s nothing weird [but the league] didn’t have the money, was the problem,” she claimed.
“[McClendon] didn’t fulfill his lease. And we’ve yet to see a document from the builder that signed saying 100% – it’s [the stadium] being built [at the mall],” she added.
Lawrence and her husband Wallace, who said he was acting as acting as general manager for the team on a volunteer basis, told KFOR they are concerned the league won’t make good on paychecks or proper paperwork.
“If [the commissioner] is able to build that stadium and that stadium holds games starting on April 1st, I’m going to be very excited but right now it doesn’t look good,” said Lawrence.
In an interview Wednesday with KFOR, Commissioner McClendon said there is a contigency plan in place for the planned kickoff game, on April 1st, but did not share additional details.
“We committed to the city [and] we’re going to be there regardless,” he said.
“We just want this thing cleared up so we can get back on course.”