Orlando City Soccer unveils new $155 million stadium with 25,500 seats


Orlando City Soccer today revealed a new bigger design for its soccer specific stadium today, announcing it would spend in excess of $155 million on a venue that would seat 25,500 fans.

The initial design featured seating for 19,500 fans but a 6,000 seat increase will now make it the third-largest stadium in MLS. The stadium will have roofing cover on all four sides which in turn will enhance the overall noise level which will hopefully bring a more intimidating atmosphere for away sides.

Orlando City Soccer Stadium Update, The Abbey, 100 S. Eola Dr., Orlando, Florida - 31st July 2015 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

Phil Rawlins, Orlando City SC president, also announced that after consultation with other MLS teams that the new stadium will also include about 20 percent club seating, with more than half of 31 luxury suites already sold.

The club is also acquiring around ten to twelve acres of extra land adjacent to the stadium in order to create an area for what the club called a pre-game fan zone.

“The story today is about passion and inspiration,” said Rawlins said,“I think the first thing we’re proud of is increasing capacity to 25,500. That’s been done by filling in three sides and building a new south stand that gets us to our 25,500 capacity and that’s really what we were aiming for.”

The club envisions a 12-14 month build cycle, with completion of the stadium targeted near September 2016. Rawlins said the stadium could be open for the final few months of next season and a potential playoff run if the construction team hit all its benchmarks.

Orlando City Soccer Stadium Update, The Abbey, 100 S. Eola Dr., Orlando, Florida - 31st July 2015 (Photographer: Nigel G Worrall)

As for the man funding the entire stadium, majority owner Flavio Augusto da Silva said, “We are thrilled with the work to date and proud to unveil the latest set of renderings for our home in downtown. “This new privately financed stadium will be a state-of-the-art venue for our Club and for our fans. It will also create more jobs for the community and bring significant economic impact to the city of Orlando and surrounding communities. With construction underway, we look forward to hosting the first games in the new stadium later next year.”

The Lions will continue to play at the Citrus Bowl until the new venue is completed.


So with the Lions currently averaging 31,000 fans per game excluding the 62,000 fans who attended the opening game against New York, the obvious question is “Is the stadium going to be big enough?”

For a club that has held lofty ambitions and has generally exceeded them time and time again, today’s announcement must go down as something of a disappointment for most fans. In essence, some 6,000 current fans won’t be able to get into a game next season and that surely has to be real cause for concern for a club that wants to grow the game of soccer in Central Florida. Further, if the club achieves anything like a modicum of success on the field, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that they might have regularly drawn in excess of 40,000 to each game if the stadium had the capacity.

Of course, the fall back situation might be to go back to the Citrus Bowl to play such games but the big disadvantage of doing that is the fact there isn’t a grass surface in that part of Orlando.


One then needs to consider the lost revenue opportunities. At just $20 a ticket and 6,000 lost fans, the club is missing out on an extra $2 million plus per season at that ticket price and over five years that’s an extra $10 million plus that the club could have reaped in. Having talked to a lot of people at today’s press conference, I can say that most fans envisioned a stadium with a capacity of around 28,000 to 30,000 but it seems that the location of the stadium really prohibits that possibility according to the teams ownership. It’s a shame really as building a supporter base is an essential ingredient of a successful club and while no one is suggesting the club hasn’t been successful, perhaps it might do well to consider that most clubs in the world would love to be in the position of being able to turn fans away.

Naturally, by limiting the number of available tickets, fans must consider what is likely to happen to ticket prices and the only conclusion that can be reached is that at some stage the club will raise their pricing levels because of the demand. The other side of the coin is that empty seats in a stadium never look good and by building a larger capacity stadium, the club are taking that possibility out of play.


All that said, things in sport are fluid. If we’d sat down four years ago and talked about a 25,000 seater stadium not having enough capacity, most sports minded people in Orlando would have said that it was a dream. Things can change though and for now it seems that the hierarchy at the club are satisfied with the stadium proposal so that’s what we must now roll with for now. The club has come along way in a short time and we would be wise to not forget that fact. Ultimately, it’s not the fans writing the $155 million check and we must be extremely thankful to both Flavio and Phil for bringing the world’s most popular sport to our area.

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