Ahead of the Game
There’s no chance of a rain delay at Carmelo Scalone’s 27,000 square foot indoor soccer and sports complex, where the focus and mission is about more than just what goes on inside.
For Carmelo Scalone, Jan. 26, 2014 was the beginning of a dream come true. The Indoor Soccer and Sports Owasso (ISSO) complex is a one of a kind in Green Country. The climate-controlled, 27,000 square-foot state-of-the-art facility was built for fun, exercise and friendly competition for all ages.
Scalone sees ISSO as a ministry to the community, “It’s supporting itself, so that’s been a blessing,” he says. “It’s about touching lives when people come in here. When people come in and say ‘I appreciate the scripture on the wall’ or ‘I appreciate the music you play’ and stuff like that, it’s above me.”
He says the venue still has a long way to go, but as far as the things they’ve put into play, it’s all going according to plan.
A lot of indoor soccer venues throughout the country have had some pretty unforgiving surfaces, but not this field. It incorporates the latest in soccer turf technology with a carpet produced using sand and rubber. The lush indoor field re-creates outdoor playing while ensuring safer play.
“We actually built this on Mother Nature,” Scalone says. “We bring a little of the outside in. There’s dirt underneath it, no concrete. It’s safer. It’s like playing outdoors.”
ISSO offers adult and youth soccer leagues, flag football for adults, as well as coed leagues in all the sports. Activities occur throughout the year, but during the winter months it’s pretty packed. To date, it is the biggest indoor field in Green Country.
“There’s one bigger in OKC,” Scalone says, smiling, “but this is the biggest in Northeast Oklahoma. Our field [185 feet by 85 feet] is the size of an ice-skating rink. Normally you would see the boards and then a little bit of Plexiglas, but we went glass all the way around, the only one exactly like it.”
In an indoor soccer facility, it’s normally too difficult to send passes sailing as high in the air as an outdoor game, but not so at ISSO.
“The height of the ceiling was important,” he says. “It kept me up at night. When I did the homework, I found that the height and the lighting would be two of the things that could set us apart. Until they built it I didn’t really know it was going to be the right height.”
He had in mind the idea to build two fields but the budget only allowed for one.
“We went this big so we could attract major arena soccer teams. The Tulsa Revolution were in play at the time we built this facility,” he says. “They practiced here and had some of their premier team games here during their stay, but they folded at the end of the 2014-15 season.”
That made room for their own indoor semi-professional soccer team called Tornadoes FC — coached by Adam Kenes — and all their fans.
“Adam is well connected, a great guy and teacher,” Scalone says. “We’re doing more and more to get people here, to put this place on the map. We’ve got some real momentum for the team, and it’s bringing people in here that normally wouldn’t have come.”
With admission price of $6 for adults and $2 for youth to see the team play, it makes for an inexpensive night out.
“I think it’s affordable,” he says. “People want to get out and not be cooped up. The young soccer players enjoy watching the big guys play. It’s fun for them.” With a DJ and a halftime intermission game between academy teams, ISSO’s working to build the atmosphere to increase crowd support.
“Soccer is growing. It’s a popular sport among youth,” he says. “For the adults, after they’ve played and gone away from it for a while and then gotten back into it, it has great health values. Some of the homework I did, it builds bone density in women. There are some great benefits.”
When he and his family moved to Oklahoma in 2008, the dream became a solid idea in Scalone’s mind. He started playing indoor soccer frequently in a league at Soccer City, having played since he was a kid. Through that play, he became connected with soccer enthusiasts in the Tulsa area. Talk circulated that there was room for another soccer facility, and so he looked at the business model.
As a multi-unit leader manager with Home Depot and as a district manager and project coordinator, Scalone had knowledge of building large structures. When Home Depot released him with severance after working with the company for 23 years, Scalone saw it as a sign to make a decision about ISSO.
“I would have liked to still have had a job when I did this. This was definitely God supported,” he says. “Three years later, here we are. We’re just going along for the ride. It was a gift from God for me, something I wanted to do full time. It’s our desire to impact everyone who walks through that door.”
When asked how he explains the fact that people come from all over Tulsa to visit ISSO, Scalone says, “Stats show that 70 percent of soccer players will travel the time it takes to play half a game. Meaning, that if they could play a 25-minute half, they would be willing to drive 25 minutes to get there. Soccer players love it that much. People come from Owasso, Claremore, Tulsa, Oologah, Collinsville, Skiatook and Verdigris.”
ISSO is a Christian-based organization, so it’s a family environment. They encourage the players to enjoy the competition but to keep the language clean. The facility does not tolerate fighting and promotes having a good time. Scalone says it’s the place to come for laughs and fun.
Birthday parties at the facility are becoming more popular, possibly because they rent out equipment for knocker-soccer (also known as bubble soccer), which is a combination of the beloved sport and bumper cars. Camps, church groups and team-building activities are among the many other uses the facility offers.
Indoor Soccer and Sports Owasso
16990 E. 116th St. | Owasso
Monday: Noon-11 p.m.
Tuesday-Saturday: 8 a.m.-11 p.m.
Sunday: Noon-9 p.m.
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