Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dawn of the Don

The day is finally here, Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber has arrived in Orlando for the much anticipated town hall meeting with Orlando City supporters and local officials. We are all geared up and ready to bring you the full day of events right here on our website and of course on Facebook and Twitter. We will keep a running thread of updates here so check back often. "The Professor" will be covering things from the morning right through the matches tonight. If you haven't made plans yet to get down to Mojo Bar & Grill for the 12:30pm start time, call in sick to work or plan that late lunch now.

If you didn't make it down to Mojo today, here is our play-by-play of how the morning unfolded...

1:30pm - Garber has wrapped up the proceedings at Mojo, and who got to ask the last questions? None other than "The Professor", and he brought the house down. The question was this, "Orlando is home to Fortune 500 companies, the 2nd largest university in the country, an NBA team, fantastic weather, and is the theme park capaital of the world. Can you tell me not what Orlando can do for MLS, but what MLS can do for Orlando?" Garber and Rawlins each had a massive smile over their faces and the crowd went absolutely crazy. Garber said that he didn't think he could answer that question and quickly exited the stage to head upstairs for the press meeting. During the press meeting "The Professor" was able to ask a couple follow-up questions with Garber and we will present those to you in our recap later tonight. He also informed the press that he wouldn't be attending the Disney PSC tonight as previously planned, so don't expect to see him at ESPN WWOS tonight for the match.

1:00pm - Garber is still going, just about 30 minutes in with his speech. He mentioned that MLS wants to be in New York but also in Orlando and Miami. It isn't a question of one city over the other, the plan is now for MLS to grow beyond 20 teams but to do it in a reasonable time frame. He stressed that no time table is set for MLS 20 to be announced. He stressed the need for 10,000 fans at home matches to really show the fan support is there to have an MLS team. Garber mentioned how Seattle FC will be opening all 66,000 seats at CenturyLink Field for their matches against Portland and Vancouver this season.

12:45pm - Don Garber comments so far seem to very positive. He was impressed with the turn-out of supporters, that is good to know since the meeting in South Florida last January lacked fans. He said that the passion for the game exists in Orlando and it can be felt in the room today. Garber mentions that Orlando has a lot of great things going for them from Orlando City, to the NBA All-Star Game, and the other attractions; and MLS wants to be part of that. The one issue left on the table is the stadium and whether a renovated Citrus Bowl or a new SSS deal can be struck soon. He even states that it will take a very long time to get a stadium built in NYC.

12:30pm - Here is the scene from inside Mojo bar as we are just mintues away from Don Garber and MLS taking the stage to talk to Orlando City supporters. We are being told that it is standing room only with some people still trying to get in. The second floor is covered in banners, creative stuff from the Lion supporters. And just as we are finishing this update, in walks "The Soccer Don". Follow us on Twitter (@ScoringThird) for the live updates.

12:15pm - "The Professor" is reporting about 150 people already inside Mojo with a steady stream of fans still arriving. Our understanding is that Garber tends to run just a little late, but he's "The Soccer Don" so that's allowed. If you are downtown now for other business, head on over to Mojo and check out the event. Looks like we will have a good chance at asking some of our/your questions in a bit. Here's a view of the stage all setup and ready to go. Just about 15 minutes before the team, officials, and MLS arrive. You can feel the energy in the room!

12:00pm - Mojo is filling up with fans. A giant Lion banner hangs from the mezzanine inside the bar; the Lion is standing on a NY Cosmos ball; genius. MLS Insider Shawn Francis (@MLS_Insider) is doing a great job tweeting the event for the organization, check him out on twitter. "The Professor has just settled in by the stage to take in the event, the doors opened just a little late but that shouldn't impact the turn-out as the Noon time rush of people is on now.

The Ruckus, Iron Lion Firm, and
Los Guerrilloz are out in numbers

11:30am - The doors are just about to open here at Mojo Bar & Grill on Church Street for the town hall meeting. Although it was empty at 11 the crowds are starting to roll in by the dozens. We have already seen representatives from The Ruckus, Iron Lion Firm, Los Guerrilloz, and Space Coast Alliance SG. If you haven't checked out Orlando City's Facebook page yet, they have posted pictures of the billboard contest winners and their phrases. Great stuff from the supporters, now it is time to get downtown and show strength in numbers. "The Professor" will be heading inside in just a few minutes.

Scott with Space Coast
 Alliance Supporters Group
is first in line at Mojo
11:00am - "The Professor" has setup shop across the street from Mojo to take in the scene as fans arrive. Looks like Scott from the Space Coast Alliance Supporters Group is the first in line. Beautiful morning down on Church Street. Doors open in 30 minutes and we expect the crowd to start growing fast.

10:00am - "The Professor" is just pulling into downtown and should have some pictures of the scene from City Hall and outside of Mojo for us in a bit. The Orlando City banner is hanging proudly on the front of City Hall. A beautiful day in Orlando and a great welcome gift for MLS and their staff.

9:00am - Just heard from "The Professor" he said decided on taking the entire day off work instead of just ducking out early. In my book that's leadership. He is hitting the showers and then heading downtown to get an early look at the diehards who will be lining up outside of Mojo in the next hour or so. I am almost seeing in the Twitterverse that is looks like Don Garber (@theSoccerDon) got into town last night and is probably enjoy breakfast at the Waffle House on South OBT as we speak (kidding).


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