With any sports team, the game day experience plays a large part for drawing in fans and supporters of the organization. From day one Orlando City seemed to have figured out that aspect of a soccer club, but some negatives outside of the control of the club have seeped through the cracks.
Having your team president being a part-owner in an English Premier League club like Stoke City doesn’t hurt the situation. Across the pond each city's identity is most commonly revolves around their local soccer team. Unfortunately here in the United States, the situation is reversed, the soccer team experience typically revolves around the host city. The Lions seem to have done all they can to create the most uplifting atmosphere on game day that remains possible. However many supporters, myself included, feel that the negatives in the game day experience due to “The City”. Let's take a look at some of the hurdles impacting the match day atmosphere and how the team might be able to get the city to give a little.
A city-related issue comes about with the direction of parking within the grass lots. A lot of tailgaters gather in these areas due to the ability to kick around a soccer ball while getting hyped up for the match ahead. The parking lot employees do not seem to understand this particular part of game day. A simple talking to by the Orlando City front office could solve this problem. It is my belief that getting involved in playing soccer can be very important for the growth of the club regardless of when, where, or how you play.
Another issue that the club does have a say in is different groups tailgating before the matches separately and in completely different areas. Not having a unified area for all the supporters and fans to tailgate has many negative effects. But lets focus on what positives it could bring:
1. Shows newcomers how passionate you can get about soccer.
2. Creates a more powerful atmosphere beforehand to lead into a electric atmosphere within the stadium.
3. Provides for better organization of tailgates & greater opportunities for events within.
4. Allows for “supporters” to interact closely with “fans”; creating a bond that can be felt at kickoff and beyond.
As important of a part as youth continues to be in the sport of soccer, more attention should be paid on how to entertain the children while others tailgate in the parking lots. For some time there was a small street soccer cage inside the stadium concourse setup that could be very beneficial to bring back. This allows kids who have maybe never played before to become physically involved in the sport. Seen quite often in the “Big Four” leagues, face painting could also help to keep the youngest of attendees entertained.
A final aspect that Orlando City can be partially in control of pushing for is the temporary beatification of the Citrus Bowl. Only a figure of speech before, there could be something done to seal up the negativity that seeps out of the cracks of the ancient hunk of concrete. But why would I dwell on this? When you can go here to see some potential additions to the venue.
Whatever the negatives may be, the city is ahead of the sport in our country and the priorities of the city dictate the schedule for improvements. As passionate as supporters feel about these issues at the Citrus Bowl, it's nice that our team is getting it done on the field so we have more time to focus on the little things.