Nigerian-American Dr. Kingsley Okonkwo to complete first Black-owned sporting complex in the city of Corpus Christi, Texas

BY Ben Ebuka Oji February 26, 2024 7:57 AM EDT
Dr. Kingsley Okonkwo
Dr. Kingsley Okonkwo, the founder of Pedicare Children's Clinic and Corpus Christi FC, affectionately known as "THE SHARKS." Photo Credit: Pedicare | Corpus Christi FC.

A Nigerian-American physician, businessman and sports enthusiast, Dr. Kingsley Okonkwo is adding to the sporting and commercial vibrancy of Corpus Christi, Texas by constructing the city’s first Black-owned sports complex.

For years, Dr. Okonkwo harbored aspirations of becoming a businessman. However, it was during his high school and college years that he discovered his passion for soccer. In 2016, still fueled by his love for soccer and sports in general, he contemplated the idea of launching a soccer club in Corpus Christi.

“I realized we didn’t have anything like that in Corpus Christi,” Dr. Okonkwo said. “So the idea and the idea and the concept came; can we build something here?”

By early 2017, Corpus Christi Football Club LLC was registered officially to bring a pre-professional soccer franchise to Corpus Christi, Texas. On October 23, 2017, Corpus Christi FC, affectionately known as “The Sharks,” was granted an Expansion Franchise for the Coastal Bend Region by the USL-PDL (USL League Two).

Commencing competitive play in 2018, the club swiftly solidified its position as one of the top USL League Two teams nationwide, committed to showcasing an exhilarating style of soccer. In 2019, the club took a significant step by founding the Corpus Christi FC Academy, dedicated to nurturing young talent within the Coastal Bend Region.

Broader Vision for More Value

Broadening his vision beyond founding a professional soccer club and achieving the mark of building the first Black-owned soccer club in Corpus Christi, Dr. Okonkwo redirected his focus toward elevating the sporting landscape in the city. This culminated in the creation of a Corpus Christi’s sports complex, a groundbreaking endeavor spearheaded by a Black entrepreneur.

In December 2023, Dr. Okonkwo and his team unveiled plans for the commencement of the multi-sports complex, poised to revolutionize the sports industry and cultural landscape not only in Texas but also beyond its borders.

Notable figures present at the groundbreaking ceremony included Mayor Paulette Guajardo, CCREDC CEO Mike Culbertson, Corpus Christi Council members, city staff, along with players from Corpus Christi FC and Corpus Christi FC Academy.

According to a statement by the soccer club, the development, funded by an investment group spearheaded by Dr. Okonkwo and his Next Sports Company, is projected to cost $28.3 million.

Dr. Okonkwo, underlining the profound influence of the multi-sports complex, said: “Now emerging from a previously underutilized area of our city, our multi sports complex signifies a landmark development that will leave a lasting imprint on our community. Its influence is poised to resonate across generations of supporters, visitors, and residents who will soon have the privilege of enjoying its world-class amenities. With this groundbreaking, we celebrate a pivotal milestone, enabling the realization of a new multi sports venue. This venture positions us to attract regional and national tournaments, establish a professional soccer team, and provide a world-class training facility for our athletes.”

Situated on the city’s west side, spanning 46 acres of land at 5102 Old Brownsville Rd, the Corpus Christi FC Multi-Sports Complex is slated to open in 2024. It will encompass outdoor playing surfaces tailored for different sports, including soccer, baseball, softball, lacrosse, flag football, and potentially additional offerings.

Economic Impact

As Corpus Christi evolves into a burgeoning sports destination, this multi-sports facility will enable the region to host events previously hindered by facility limitations. It promises an unparalleled experience for local athletes and visitors, drawing participants and enthusiasts from across the region and beyond. Moreover, it will invigorate the local and state economies by enticing visitors to the community.

Additionally, the complex will serve as a focal point for families, fostering excitement and economic growth in both the city and the broader region.

Dr. Okonkwo and his team enlisted the consulting services of the South Texas Economic Development Center at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Texas, to conduct an exhaustive feasibility study on the potential impact of the proposed sports facility on the Corpus Christi Region. According to the report, the new facility is projected to generate an additional $15.3 million annually in direct tourism spending within the community. 

Furthermore, it will lead to job creation in the construction phase and provide full-time employment opportunities once operational. Ultimately, the state and city stand to benefit from significant new revenue streams made possible by the existence of the facility.

Corpus Christi FC, affectionately known as The-Sharks
Corpus Christi FC, affectionately known as The-Sharks. Photo Credit: Corpus Christi FC

Key components of the complex

The facility complex occupies nearly 37 acres of land, boasting 595,000 square feet of outdoor competition space. Designed with utmost flexibility, it accommodates a wide array of sports and events.

Key components include: 

1. A modular stadium with seating for 5,000 spectators, designated as the official venue for Corpus Christi FC’s professional and pre-professional soccer teams. Additionally, the stadium is available for public rental, events, and concerts.

2. Eight versatile fields, illuminated for baseball, softball, flag football, soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, rugby, cheerleading, and more.

3. A standard-length Go Kart racing track, marking the city’s inaugural Go Kart racing program.

In addition to hosting tournaments on weekends, the complex serves as the hub for Corpus Christi FC and Next Sports youth athletic programs. It extends its facilities to local sports clubs and leagues, fostering community engagement and development.

A Man of Many Hats

In addition to his achievements in sports development, Dr. Okonkwo is also a board-certified and licensed pediatrician. He is the founder of PediCare. Pedicare Children’s Clinic is the first and only Black-owned pediatric clinic and urgent care center in Corpus Christi.

Dr. Okonkwo opened PediCare nearly two years ago, marking the beginning of his expansive vision for Corpus Christi. As he continues to contribute to the roster of dynamic entrepreneurs representing the Blacks in Texas and beyond, Dr. Okonkwo emphasizes that celebrating Black History Month serves as a means to spotlight the achievements and contributions of our culture.

“I’ve always wanted to be a pediatrician since I was 12 years old,” Okonkwo said.”The first clinic I opened was actually in Odessa, TX about 5-6 years ago. It’s grown to 4 different clinics and the Corpus Christi branch is actually the fifth branch.”

“I see it as a way to look at the past, to reflect on the present and look towards the future,” Okonkwo added.

Dr. Kingsley Okonkwo earned his medical degree from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. He served as a visiting physician at the Department of Pediatric Infectious Disease at UT Southwestern University’s Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Okonkwo pursued further training as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Pediatric Infectious Disease at Stony Brook University School of Medicine in Stony Brook, New York. He completed his Pediatric Residency at the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Kansas City, Kansas. Additionally, Dr. Okonkwo held the position of Research Scholar, focusing on the effects of hypoxia on the vascular endothelium, at the Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology at the University of Kansas in Kansas City, Kansas.

In 2016, he relocated to South Texas, where he assumed the position of Assistant Professor in Pediatrics at Texas A&M University College of Medicine. Concurrently, he served as an Attending in Pediatrics at Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas. His expertise encompasses general pediatrics, pediatric cardiovascular diseases, care of children with special health care needs, chronic illness, and asthma.

Dr. Okonkwo has extensive experience in primary care pediatrics, cardiovascular medicine, pediatric hospital medicine, and pediatric emergency medicine in his practice.

Dr. Okonkwo has contributed to the scholarly community by publishing numerous articles and papers in reputable journals. He is an active member of several professional organizations, including the International Society for Infectious Diseases, the American Heart Association, and the International Society for Urban Health. Additionally, he holds fellowship status with the American Academy of Pediatrics and the New York Academy of Medicine. He is also board-certified in Pediatrics, showcasing his commitment to maintaining the highest standards of medical practice.