Make it Official: Orlando City Soccer Club to begin MLS play in 2015
ORLANDO (November 19, 2013) – One of the fastest-growing, top 20 metropolitan areas in the United States will soon be the home of Major League Soccer’s 21st club, as MLS Commissioner Don Garber and expansion team owners Flávio Augusto da Silva and Phil Rawlins announced tonight that Orlando will join the league in 2015. Orlando's new MLS team, Orlando City Soccer Club, will join as an expansion team for the league’s 20th season.
With the addition of Orlando, MLS has added 11 clubs since the beginning of the 2005 season, leading to a remarkable and rapid transformation of professional soccer in North America. Three more expansion teams will be added by 2020.
“We are proud and excited to welcome Orlando to Major League Soccer,” Commissioner Garber said. “From the success of the Orlando City Soccer Club, to the incredible fan support and passion in the community, this is a new market that really excites us. We have great confidence in Flávio Augusto da Silva, Phil Rawlins and the rest of the Orlando City ownership group. They love this sport, our League and this city. And thanks to the commitment of ownership, the City of Orlando and Orange County, Orlando City will soon have a spectacular new stadium that will provide fans and the entire community with a truly unique downtown sporting experience.”
One of the world’s top tourism destinations with more than 57 million visitors annually, metropolitan Orlando is the 19th largest market in the United States and features a diverse, young and vibrant community. The Orlando area’s Hispanic population has more than doubled since 2000, making it the nation’s fourth fastest-growing Latino market.
Orlando City’s inaugural season will see the club open its own soccer stadium in downtown Orlando. The brand new stadium will be located on Church Street, in a vibrant section of Orlando's entertainment district. The new stadium will be accessible by both car and public transportation, with its construction scheduled to begin in spring of 2014. Prior to moving into the new stadium in the summer of 2015, Orlando City will play matches at the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium.
During the past year, Orlando has hosted several major soccer events, including the USL PRO championship match in September, which drew a USL-record crowd of 20,886 fans to the Citrus Bowl. More recently, the U.S. and Brazil match on November 10 at the Citrus Bowl drew the largest home crowd in nearly 10 years for the U.S. women’s national team. In addition, Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, where Orlando City will play the 2014 USL PRO season, has served as host to MLS preseason training and many elite international clubs.