Orlando City to privately finance new soccer-specific stadium
The big news we’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived.
As reported by Paul Tenorio of the Orlando Sentinel, Orlando City plans to privately finance the entirety of it’s brand new downtown soccer-specific stadium, which is still set to open in the summer of 2016, meaning the Lions will begin next season in the Orlando Citrus Bowl, where they have been playing all home games of their debut Major League Soccer season.
“Orlando is an incredible market for professional soccer and attendance at our matches clearly demonstrates that demand,” said Majority Owner Flavio Augusto da Silva in a club release. “Before deciding to invest in Orlando City, I researched several markets around the country for professional soccer but Orlando became the ideal location because of the fan base and the city’s leadership. I believe in Mayor Dyer’s vision for the future of this great city, which is why we are investing even more into this project today. I am very excited for the future and very grateful for the wonderful partnership with Mayor Dyer and the City of Orlando.”
Orlando City will now take some time to re-think the stadium plan, and look at ways to improve everything from fan-experience, to player facilities, and everything in between.
They want this stadium to be not just one of the best in MLS, but the best.
Orlando City had been waiting on government approval for an extra $30 million dollar worth funding that would have come through the state. Instead, the club will pay back the $20 million that Orange County planed to pay, and Orlando city will completely own and operate the new stadium.
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In addition, due to a high demand for tickets through the team’s first three months in MLS — the club is averaging close to 40,000 fans per home game — the club will increase the capacity of the new stadium to anywhere between 25,000 and 28,000. The original plans called a 19,500-seat stadium.
The increase in capacity will put Orlando City into the top three highest-capacity stadiums in MLS when it opens.
“We have repeatedly called Orlando the ‘Soccer Capital of the South’ and our fans continue to strengthen that reputation each and every week,” said President and Founder Phil Rawlins in the release. “The incredible response from our fans and partners has led us to pursue a larger facility with enhanced amenities. We didn’t come here to be average, we came here to continually defy expectations and our vision for the new stadium will rank us among the top three clubs in MLS.
“Importantly, we remain committed to our neighbors in Parramore and our significant investment further validates that commitment,” Rawlins continued. “The new stadium will contribute to the economic growth of Parramore during construction and in its operation, and will be a point of pride for residents and fans alike.”
The city of Orlando will sell the stadium land to the club for a “fair market value,” according to Tenorio.
Orlando City was originally planning to build a $115 million stadium to open in 2016, with $85 million coming from the club and city, and the other $30 million being provided by the state. Tired of waiting, Orlando City took things into their own hands, and decided to make this project 100 percent their’s, which is pretty incredible.