Orlando City to play inaugural 2015 MLS season at renovated Citrus Bowl

CitrusBowlRenovation

By MIKE GRAMAJO

Orlando City SC will have to wait until 2016 to begin playing in their new downtown soccer-specific stadium.

The club announced on Monday morning that they will play the entire 2015 inaugural Major League Soccer season at the renovated Florida Citrus Bowl after claiming delays in the last acquisition of land by City of Orlando officials. Despite the delay, the club did say that the $80 million in funding has been secured from Club, city and surrounding counties

“We remain hard at work alongside our partner the City of Orlando on all aspects of the project,” OCSC President Phil Rawlins said in a team-issued statement. “I am very confident saying that we remain fully on track to open our new stadium prior to the start of the 2016 MLS season and we will be announcing details for our new stadium ground breaking ceremony later this year.”

The new Citrus Bowl, which will seat roughly over 65,000 people and will cost close to $200 million, is expected to be finished by November 2014. The Citrus Bowl is located a half mile from the site of Orlando City’s soccer stadium project.

The Lions are currently evaluating potential construction teams, and have identified Populous, Barton Malow and Icon Venue Group as the leading companies to construct Orlando’s new stadium.

The news comes after New York City FC announced on Monday that they will begin playing their inaugural season at Yankee Stadium, refuting rumors of them playing elsewhere while also announcing that they will begin taking season ticket deposits.

Orlando City is currently playing their 2014 season in USL Pro, and they also announced that they will being accepting season ticket deposits for their 2015 MLS season.

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25 Responses to Orlando City to play inaugural 2015 MLS season at renovated Citrus Bowl

  1. Vic says:

    Not sure why teams can’t wait until a soccer specific stadium is ready before they start playing. Its not an emergency to get team playing as soon as possible.

    • Falls City Outlaw says:

      Dude. It’s called money. Teams don’t make money if they’re not playing. It’s a chicken and the egg scenario – why does a SSS need to come first?

      • Doesn’t need to come first but playing on a lousy surface or in NYCFC’s case a phantom pitcher’s mound makes it difficult for groundscrews, not to mention the outside view of MLS is going to take a major hit when people see what theyre trying to do. This is just getting uglier by the minute.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      It’s like a college acceptance, I’d say. You fight and fight to get in on MLS’ timetable, present a rosy scenario, and then when you encounter practical difficulties, the choice is to alter the plan towards realism but enter with your class, or to defer until everything is in place.

      MLS could demand a SSS prior to entry but I don’t think MLS would like the PR of a deferral. There is a drive to continue on the timetable. Other sports have it too. F1 ran the Korean GP when they barely had the track finished, not all of the stands ready, stands partly filled, dirt surrounding the whole circuit, desolate looking on foggy days. Made for TV spectacle which I assume went forward because the show must go on.

      I think the smarter play would be to require a stadium or at least a land purchase prior to acceptance into the league (years before the team launches). MLS has no need to take the financial risks people are encouraging it to do. Miami has no home, NYC2 is playing in a baseball park, and now this one is in a football stadium. That’s a regression from the mid 00s set of teams that generally came in ready to go.

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        There also has to be at least some concern that if I push things back until everything’s aligned, maybe the league finds an excuse to pull the rug from under me and yank the team entirely. Whereas if you fudge the beautifully rendered sales pitch you keep the team and try to figure out how to make it happen like you planned.

        MLS needs to monitor the situations to make sure teams are going to deliver something like they promised. If you’re going to turn down a team like SA that has a stadium ready, you better not be well shucks-ing the absence of stadia in the new stadia for a decade.

      • the unmistakeable Ronaldinho says:

        Its clear to see that MLS is in a “strike while its hot” mode. They are trying to get their hands in markets where they see the highest potential gain for the league. Have to remember the league is collective. If NYCFC, Orlando, Miami and Atlanta are successful everyone wins. What I’m seeing is when they see a serious interest and professional owners group in place, they move forward with little hesitation and trust the details will work themselves out. I think at this point, how to fail in MLS has been shown. Smart owners know what it takes to start generating revenue which is why they are getting in on this anyway. Its relatively low investment to get an MLS franchise, compared to the big leagues, with massive growth potential.

  2. Jay Boca says:

    Orlando City did not really need a SSS, the Citrus Bowl has no NFL team so Orlando City would have been their main tenant.

    They could have renovated the stadium for the soccer team but with ability to expand capacity for college football bowl games.

    • CorkSoccer says:

      Please telling me you are kidding???

      • Increase0 says:

        He isn’t wrong. You don’t NEED it. However Slow gets to the point its simply better for the MLS and the team to feel “full.” It’s really not fun to sit in a empty stadium and its not fun people don’t come.

        Economically? A free empty stadium is a good thing.

        • Vic says:

          Depends on the terms. DC United is the primary tenant at RFK and they lose money. Depends on the lease and what control the team gets from advertising and concesssions. Also when there’s other events at RFK, DC United doesn’t make any money from it.

    • slowleftarm says:

      Your statement would be true if this was 1998 or so but MLS has realized that 20,000 fans rattling around an ancient 60,000 seat football stadium doesn’t make for a particularly great atmosphere.

  3. MattJack says:

    It seems that people are not reading the article. The Citrus Bowl is finishing up a $200 million dollar renovation.

    The rebuilt stadium will feature wider concourses, modernized restrooms, more leg room for fans and an open-air exterior, according to early plans released by the city.

  4. ArcaneMelody says:

    let the moaning and groaning commence.

  5. RK says:

    At least it isn’t a baseball stadium.

  6. beto says:

    For 1 year not a bad plan. Ppl will want to see the renovated stadium, new team, league etc. then in their second season move into a more appropriate long term home.

    • JayAre says:

      I was thinking the same thing one year isn’t that bad the first year of anything is always a learning curve so if the team has a bad year at least they have something to look forward to the next year so basically their first year in a SSS won’t be a dry run.

  7. Ivan says:

    Real grass or plastic?

    Football must never be played on plastic/artificial turf.

    • smartestonthepitch says:

      Why? A good artificial surface is as good as grass. The statics show it is not more prone to injury. get over it.

      • Jim says:

        Injuries aren’t the only issue. There is also a ton of data that the ball reacts differently on turf, and the more you play on an artificial surface the worse it gets. It makes for significant differences between the way the sport is played. Far more so than the differences between real grass at each stadium.

    • M Andrew McClatchey says:

      The Citrus Bowl is real grass FYI…

      as for people that constantly bash turf… the new stuff is about as close to grass as you can get…. people think of the stuff 5-15 years ago… the new stuff is pretty realistic.

      • M Andrew McClatchey says:

        sorry… I see the Citrus Bowl installed new turf in 2010 after the infamous Mud Bowl game between Penn State and LSU

  8. Chris says:

    Why is anyone up in arms over a 1 year stay at the Citrus Bowl? They have a pretty much guarenteed SSS coming, no need to cry about this.

  9. Neal says:

    It’s almost as if OCSC gets to have two “first” seasons. 2015 is the inaugural MLS season, and 2016 will be the inaugural (insert corporate sponsorship SSS name) season.