Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Inside Orlando City Stadium

For well over a year now our staff has been researching and reporting on Orlando City Soccer Club's proposed soccer specific stadium. We've gathered information from public record searches, meeting minutes, and just plain old hard detective work. We've chased the location from the suburbs to the tourist corridor to downtown.

Last week we gave the latest updates on the stadium effort based on  rumors on the cost and site we had heard through several sources. However sometimes you need to cast out a net and just see what's in the water; well we've hauled up a bigger catch than we could of imagined. So without anymore sugarcoating, let's get right to the details.

Location:  We can confirm the stadium will be downtown and by downtown we mean a location no further away from the urban center than the Citrus Bowl currently sits. Can fans march to the match? Yes. Is it integrated into downtown's existing features? Yes. Do we know the actual location? Yes.  Why aren't we revealing it? After discussions internally with our staff and discussions with the team we have decided not to reveal the location. The land has not been completely secured for the stadium location as of the time of going to print with this article. We reported previously that the City does not own all the land on the proposed site, this is true and the agreement is not finalized. The main reason we aren't revealing the site is because if the deal goes through this will be an awesome location. While we are press first we all started as fans of the team and the idea of jeopardizing the best location and forcing the stadium to get delayed and/or relocated because of something we published is too big of a pill to swallow.

UPDATE: 03-24-2013: Here's is some updated information on the proposed site that we can now reveal (Land Deal).

Schedule: We have been reporting for almost a year that the team was focused on a stadium announcement in the June/July time frame. That date has moved up to May from what we can gather pending land and funding items following the current course. Three general contractors are currently being evaluated to build the stadium, they are Hunt, Turner, and Manhattan Construction. Each company is providing a detailed cost analysis as part of the bidding process for the project which is likely why the new number of $105M was offered at the press conference last week. The schedule for the stadium effort has not changed. Ground won't be broken on the stadium until MLS awards an expansion franchise to Orlando, plans have that occurring in Late 2013. Once the franchise is awarded, the stadium would take between 18-24 months to complete which means the team could spend a portion of the 2015 season in the Citrus Bowl or on a long road trip to open the season similar to Sporting KC two seasons ago.

DesignThe Los Angeles based architecture firm of Woods Bagot is designing the stadium, more specifically a team led by world renowned stadium designer Dan Meis. While we had reported that Populous out of Kansas City was the likely stadium designer, we now have confirmation that Orlando City is bucking the trend of recent MLS stadiums to go with Woods Bagot. Meis has designed many prominent sports facilities in America including the Staples Center, Lincoln Financial Field, Safco Field, and Miller Park. More specific to soccer, he and his team have worked on stadiums in China, the Middle East, Australia, and recently the proposed indoor MLS/mixed use event center in Las Vegas. Their designs take queues from their surroundings and tend to use environmentally friendly materials where possible.

FeaturesThe renderings that the team provided to the press back in December do not look anything like the design that is now being proposed. The stadium will have a Florida-feel from the exterior, though the specific finishes haven't been selected. Don't expect stainless steel or metal panels like the original renderings. The stadium will be U-Shaped with two decks stacked and completely covered all the way around and with total seating at 19,500 with potential for expansion to 22,000. The pitch itself will be the second smallest behind Jeld-Wen Park in Portland measuring 110 yard x 75 yards which should make for tight matches. Overall the stadium is tight, almost putting the fans right on top of the players similar to Loftus Road or White Hart Lane in England. Perhaps the most unique feature of the stadium will be in the open end of the facility where a mixed-use tower will be constructed. The tower will be unlike anything in MLS currently, measuring between 5 and 6 stories. The first and second levels will house the supporters section of about 3,000 seats with street level access through the building and into the stands. On the same level will be a supporters club/bar and the team's pro shop. On the second and third levels will be a combination of additional seats and club suites that will extend off the face of the building. The remaining floors of the building will house the team's offices and potentially a high-end restaurant overlooking the field. The entire exterior of the stadium will offer mixed-use and retail options based on the current plan since team facilities will mostly be in the tower feature. If we were asked to summarize the feel it would be similar to Portland in layout but with two-decks of seating, brand new, and with a very Florida feel.

So that's a lot to chew on for now, I think we will take a break from stadium articles for a while and let you digest all of this. The bottom line is that if everything holds true Orlando City's new stadium will be right downtown and open for business by Mid-2015. So Lion Nation, what do you think? Share your comments below.

21 comments :

  1. The question remains: What do we do in 2014, when the Citrus Bowl's lower bowl is torn down?

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    1. There was an article in the "friendly" Orlando newspaper on Monday stating that the Hunt Group had been awarded the construction management role for the Citrus Bowl renovations and they hope to start work in Nov 2013 with lower bowl rip-out and replacement scheduled for Jan 2014 through May 2014. Odds are that OCSC will play an extended road trip to start the season and/or play their first few matches at an alternative location in Orlando. My guess is the extended road trip option will be the answer.

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    2. Bright House Stadium, Rollins College, Boone / Edgewater High School even...

      it's not like any of these options are worse then the Citrus Bowel :p

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  2. I love the idea, i will be even more amped when we can see pictures of the proposed stadium. Great piece

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  3. I doubt the Citrus Bowl is going to happen that quick. I'm sure they've worked out scheduling for tearing out the lower bowl already.

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    1. They have. It will be torn out shortly after the 2014 Capital One Bowl.

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    2. We have the option of UCF soccer complex or Bright House stadium. May be able to work something out with the university for just one season. There's also the Seminole Soccer Complex that Orlando City owns. Could bring in temporary stands there to increase the seating capacity on the main field.

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  4. I can't imagine this "tower" at all and that bothers me. Hopefully it turns out well.

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    1. There are no renderings of the Orlando City stadium out yet, but my feel is that of the building behind the Portland Timbers scoreboard at Jeld Wen Field. To the right in this photo: http://ts-sports.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/article_home_jeldwen.jpg. Except the Orlando one would have a couple more levels and obviously a different design.

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    2. Sounds like the first level would be completely below street level.

      Almost sounds like the Lambeau Field Atrium.

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  5. I love that a supporters lounge a la (ex-L)SP is likely to be part of the stadium. That should be a component of all new soccer stadia.

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  6. So the supporters would sit behind goal?

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  7. I like where things are headed, especially with the choice of architect. Any chance of having premier league style player seating in the stands as opposed to the aluminum shelters on the field? That would be a unique in the US touch.

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    1. Daniel, we have not received any details of that nature. I personally believe that would be a great and unique touch to a United State soccer stadium.

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    2. Like Sporting Park's?

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  8. Guys -- unless the land space is really going to be that tight, I wish you'd reconsider having such a small field. Even in steamy Florida, more space makes for more attractive soccer.

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    1. I completely agree, but we are very limited in choice within the 'downtown urban core' area of Orlando. We will have a larger pitch than Portland Timbers. Look at what kind of attractive soccer they'll be playing under Caleb Porter this season, though. It is still possible on a smaller pitch.

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  9. There's already been discussion about the location that I have heard of. But this location will be perfect! Dont want to spill it but there's so much I can say about what this can do for this area. Great to hear things are rollin. I will check back in when we're free to speak on it I guess?

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  10. as an LA Galaxy fan hope you guys get the stadium and the MLS expansion
    hopefully Miami Fusion And Tampa Bay Mutiny won't happen again

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