Orlando City relocating to Wide World of Sports complex for upcoming season

BrianFeketeOrlandoCity1-Disney (Getty)

By MIKE GRAMAJO

After receiving the go-ahead to build a soccer-specific stadium that should make way for a Major League Soccer franchise in central Florida, Orlando City Soccer Club announced on Tuesday that they will play at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex for the upcoming 2014 USL Pro season.

The move to a new stadium was necessary as their most recent home, the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium, will go under a $200 million renovation for much of the next calendar year. Unlike the Citrus Bowl, Orlando City’s new home will have a grass surface.

“We look forward to next year’s possibilities before hopefully heading into MLS for the 2015 season,” Orlando City president Phil Rawlins said in statement on the team’s website. “With professional sporting event experience, premier soccer fields, and world-class amenities, this facility will enable us to play all of our home games in one location and in a venue where our fans will be closer to our players than ever before.”

The Wide World of Sports Complex, which serves as an athletic complex in the Walt Disney World Resort area, will look to expand to a capacity of 5,200 seats. In addition to now housing Orlando City, the complex is also the home for Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves during spring training. The complex is also the winter home of Italian club AS Roma, which signed a six-year contract with the site in 2012.

The site also plays host to the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic, which Orlando City took part in last February along with six MLS clubs and the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the North American Soccer League.

Last month, the Orange County board of Commissioners voted to complete funding for an $80 million downtown soccer stadium, which also put the Lions into final negotiations with MLS.

While 2014 looks to be the final year for Orlando City playing in USL Pro, the temporary home in Disney World will only last one year before the team likely joins MLS in 2015 as the league’s 21st expansion franchise.

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What do you think of this news? Do you see the Wide World of Sports complex as an ideal temporary home for the Lions? Can’t wait for them to move into their new stadium?

Share your thoughts below.

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28 Responses to Orlando City relocating to Wide World of Sports complex for upcoming season

  1. pgloerse says:

    I’m all for City but this is a tough one for me. Disney is not easy to get to or deal with generally speaking in my mind. Thankfully this is just for a season or two.

    • bryan says:

      as stated, it’s just for 2014. 2015 they’ll be at the Citrus Bowl and maybe by 2016 they will play in their SSS.

    • drew11 says:

      Disney is probably the best of a bunch of bad options. Every temporary stadium location discussed had some serious issues.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      So were they wearing the mouse ears as they tortured you?

  2. Matt C says:

    Wow, why in the world is Orlando spending 200 mill upgrading the Citrus Bowl. They play two bowl games there per year,..and some concerts..plus some high school football here and there… UCF does not play there anymore. It has its own stadium. And Orlando City will not be playing there either. How did this upgrade get sold to the public.

    also agree with Pgloerse, DisWW of Sports is not easy to get to… but the pitch will be first rate.

    • Joamiq says:

      Apparently it’s a relatively small piece of a $1.1bn plan including a new stadium for the Magic and other development… You’re right, without a regular tenant, I don’t know how that’s justified. Is a few bowl games and concerts a year really going to make them that much?

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      Why do you need a Citrus revamp when the bowl system may be on its last legs, and only provides you minimal tenancy over a year.

      Why do you need a Citrus revamp when UCF football is an afterthought and City has their own stadium plan.

      Why do you need two stadia worth of debt in a city that small.

      Houston just voted down a crackpot idea to revamp the Dome, which we still owe debt on.

  3. Jzop says:

    DISNEY SC

  4. Ivan says:

    At least they will play on real grass…that’s a step in the right direction.

  5. Riggity says:

    Don’t remember the soccer field when I was there but it’s a really cool place for a sports fan. The fans will figure out a way to get there, even if it’s “tougher to get to” …THAT’S WHY THEY ARE CALLED FANS.

  6. Jacknut says:

    What in the wide wide world of sports is going here?

  7. Pete says:

    Honestly I can’t wait for OC to be in the MLS , and RB playing first game there . That might be one of the best away matches .

  8. Jay Hutchison says:

    Umm….. Where is everyone going to sit? My son has played many times at Wide World of Sports and I just don’t see where the projected 6000-10,000 (20,000 if you believe the numbers for the USL Pro Championship, I don’t know since I couldn’t go) are going to sit. Are they going to build (or bring in) more stands? Does anyone know the actual seating capacity at the multi-purpose fields at Disney?

    • Wilfred Bramble says:

      Seating is going to be capped at around 5,500. Basically, only die-hard City supporters will be able to go.

      And why wouldn’t you believe the numbers for the championship? I was there and the place has never even been close to that full before. Not even for Newcastle or Fluminense.

    • 407 says:

      The club announced they’ve spent “six figures” (whatever that exactly means) upgrading the area including added seating to top out at 5,300. These people do things right, so they’ll have spent plenty and found a way to make the venue perform like a proper albeit small-sized stadium.

  9. timothy says:

    This just proves that USL is a Mickey Mouse league

  10. Nicky says:

    If you go to the Orlando City SC website the show where all 5,300 seats including temps will be. It’s doable.

  11. Rory says:

    The temp stadium only fits 5,300, but don’t worry, they will still announce a sell out crowd of 9,500 at each match.

  12. Rory says:

    Going to be pretty awesome seeing the Legoland sponsor logo all over Disney’s Complex!

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  14. Wilfred Bramble says:

    I was really hoping UCF’s arm could have been twisted into letting City use their football stadium.

    • Neal says:

      Someone feel free to correct me if I am wrong, but I think that since it is on a college campus, it would have meant no alcohol sales in the stadium.