Monday, September 3, 2012

So now what?

Defeated in the USLPRO Semifinals
(Courtesy of Orlando City Soccer Club)
Orlando City rolls through the regular season, they get a first round bye in the playoffs, they host their playoff match, and they lose. All of this was in the script most of us read except for the last part of it. How could a team with only one lose on the season go down two goals in the first nine minutes of the match and lose in the semifinals when the only people who thought they would lose lived in Wilmington? 

While performance on the field is the primary focus of every USLPRO team, Orlando is a bit different because the organization is working on much more of a year-round system. When the professional team wraps up their season, the youth and development academies are just hitting their stride and getting started in the fall. Just this weekend alone, the 6th Annual Seminole Labor Day boys youth tournament was put on by the club at the Seminole Soccer Complex in Lake Mary.

So that's all well and good, but what about the future, what can we expect in the off-season from Orlando City? Everyone wants to know about the team's push towards Major League Soccer, believe me, if anyone has received emails or questions on it it has been me. While there have been a lot of rumors and insider information reported on our blog in this regard, one piece of tangible data will be coming out in the next two weeks; the Economic Impact Study.

In an interview with the Orlando Sentinel last week, Phil Rawlins mentioned the study specifically stating, "we're just completing our economic impact study, which should be completed in the next 2-3 weeks, and then we'll hand that in." He went on to say that they would like to have a stadium deal in place in the next 12 months, but we have been reporting that for a while and the date may be sooner than that.

The economic impact study is going to be the first real piece of paperwork that is going to be floated out to the public about the new stadium plan. It's purpose is to highlight the economic benefits a new stadium would bring to Orlando and the Central Florida area such as job creation for construction, full time positions, tax revenue, and things of that nature. The report should also contain some specifics on the stadium itself such as sizing and perhaps even potential sites.

In previous discussions with Phil Rawlins he has consistently said that the stadium would seat 18,500 in a combination of suites, luxury seats, and regular seating areas. Last week he mention a 20,000 seat stadium in the Orlando Sentinel article as well as other interviews leading up to the playoff match. While it doesn't seem like a big deal, the jump from 18,500 to 20,000, if indeed true, is a 10 percent increase and could mean a higher price than the $70-80M price range we have heard previously. 

The potential site is still open for discussion, but the report may indeed highlight the advantages of having the stadium downtown versus adjacent to the convention center; the two locations that we reported in our previous stadium article.

So while the season came to a screeching halt on the field last Friday night for the team, the club continues on with its year-round efforts with youth development and MLS expansion. So hold your heads high Orlando City supporter groups, wash off the face paint and put the cowbells on the shelf for the winter, it was a great season. Just like the club, we are a year-round blog bringing you all the latest Orlando City information as we get it.

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