Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Orlando City Fan Forum

2013 Kit Reveal during Fan Forum
More than 200 supporters of Orlando City Soccer Club packed into Harry Buffalo's on Church Street Tuesday night for the second annual fan forum.

While the event was a chance for team officials to report on the success from the 2012 season and offer insight into the 2013 campaign, the majority of people in attendance were interested in one simple question; when is Major League Soccer (MLS) coming to Orlando?

The real answer will be at the discretion of MLS, but according to team President Phil Rawlins, the goal is still to have an franchise start play in Orlando in March of 2015. That hasn't changed from any of our meetings with the team over the last 12 months, 2015 has always been the goal so this shouldn't be too big of a surprise to most of you. It may, however, be the first time that that specific date will get wider press in the mainstream media as Rawlins shared it with a large group of television and newspaper cameras there. So let's step back and take a look at this, is 2015 realistic for MLS to arrive in Orlando?

The stadium continues to be the linchpin in the efforts to bring a team to the "City Beautiful", but there were even some updates on that front. Pizzuti Group, a real estate development company, has been hired by the team to head the stadium site effort. While that may have flown right over the heads of most in attendance it did offer some insight to us on the potential stadium location. Pizzuti will be breaking ground on a 300 unit apartment complex at 777 North Orange Avenue in the spring in an area the city is marketing as the "North Quarter". And while that site is much too small for a stadium, it does fall conveniently close to our  recommended location of 400 North Orange Avenue property adjacent to the Lynx Central Station. Pizzuti also offers experience in mixed-use development, meaning a potential combination of residential, office, and stadium space. If the team has already signed an agreement with Pizzuti, odds are that they are very close to settling on a site that might end up being private in lieu of public land offerings from the city. If that's the case, the 2015 date still holds weight.

Additionally, the team announced that they plan to have a stadium deal with funding in-place in the next six months. We have been hearing the June/July time frame of 2013 as the goal for MLS granting an expansion franchise to Orlando, that has been the date thrown around for well over a year. Let's ignore what is going on in Queens and see if the schedule still holds up if the plan is announced in the late spring and MLS grants a team over the summer. MLS typically announces expansions squads 18-24 months before they start play, that would put March 2015 right in that window, give more validity to the date.

A lot of people will naturally ask the question, if Orlando does get a franchise awarded next summer, could they have a stadium ready to play in by March of 2015. The answer to that question is no, but with a twist. If you've followed recent stadium openings in MLS you know that several teams have had extended road trips to open the season prior to their first home match in their new stadium. The classic example is Sporting KC who played their first 10 matches of the 2011 season on the road before opening Livestrong Sporting Park in June of that year. The plan still calls for a U-Shaped stadium with roughly 18,000 seats in a design similar to BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston which was built in just over 16 months. With that said, if a shovel went in the ground by next October/November, the team could potentially play in its new stadium by April/May of the 2015 season.

So on the surface it appears that the 2015 date holds water and Rawlins even stated that MLS was still pushing them for that date even with the efforts going on in Queens for NY2. MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in his state of the league address last month that he thought a 2016 date was realistic for the Queens franchise. 

The team also revealed the 2013 kits all which will be produced by Lotto, a nice move up from last seasons look. The team has listened to the fans and will go with purple for the primary color, white for the away, and have a third in red. Sources have told us that the club's official color with be purple moving forward, no jumping between colors. Purple is unique to the club, no other professional soccer team in North America currently sports purple so the branding opportunities are great.

The great news continued with two friendly announcements. The first is one we had mentioned several weeks ago, but the team only confirmed today. Orlando City will face Serie A side AS Roma at Rollins College on January 2nd as the Italian club will be holding their winter training at Disney WWOS that week. Next the club said the final details are being put together to host a pre-season friendly with a Brazilian team. Our sources are hearing that Santos would be the opponent, which is possible considering the Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A doesn't start until May. The team also mentioned bringing another English Premier League team over to play a friendly during the summer, but that news likely won't come out until April or May.

All in all it was another great event!


5 comments :

  1. WE WANT MLS

    WE WANT MLS

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  2. Any word on if the proposed AS Roma match will be open to the public? And if so when tix go on sale??

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    1. Yes the AS Roma match will be open to the public, ticket information will be out next week at the latest. My understanding is that it will be a midday match on a weekday which is why they opted for such a small venue. No word on if Michael Bradley will be here with the team.

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    2. I looked up Pizzuti at the Orange County GIS map. They own a total of 18 parcels in four different locations, only one of which is downtown (777 N. Orange). The others are unsuited elsewise. But who knows what they might be acquiring in the future.

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    3. The Pizzuti thing took me as a bit of a surprise because it seems to single a move towards a piece of private land versus something public. The city own enough real estate around the Citrus Bowl to building another stadium, but that's not the best place.

      My money is still on 400 North Orange Ave, has been for a long time. It is the ideal location and the lot is just big enough to fit a stadium. It is privately owned right now but that might be why Pizzuti was brought onboard.

      Glad to know someone else uses the GIS for this stuff.

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