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Orlando City reveal MLS plans, hope for official word in November

Oct 14, 2013, 1:30 PM EDT

Sellout crowds are the aim for Orlando City, as a new downtown stadium awaits. Sellout crowds are the aim for Orlando City, as a new downtown stadium awaits.

These days a Major League Soccer franchise heading to Orlando seems about as likely as Eli Manning throwing an interception…

So, with Orlando City closer than ever in their quest to move up to the big leagues, only one vote from the Orange County Commission on Oct. 22 separates them from entering MLS and bringing a franchise back to Florida.

With many expecting that to be a forgone conclusion, after Orlando City Council unanimously approved plans to hand $20 million worth of tourist tax to build the stadium, Lions president Phil Rawlins sat down with the Orlando Sun Sentinel to chat about which areas the club plan to strengthen on ahead of a possible MLS bow, with plenty of interesting tidbits popping up.

He gave some pretty intriguing answers, so here are a few snippets of what he had to say.

On a likely timeline for the franchise to reach MLS after the stadium deal is in place:

Once that’s done, a successful outcome would mean we believe within 30 days, certainly by the end of November, we’d hope to have an MLS announcement in Orlando that we’ll be joining Major League Soccer. Our plan is to play in 2015, so that gives about 16 months to get prepared. And first kick for MLS would be March of 2015.

On players making the jump from USL to MLS:

We would believe that a number of those players would make the transition with us. How many? That’s down to Adrian and the performance of those players over the next 12 months, but a number of those players that we’ve got on the books today we’d expect to make the jump to Major League Soccer. They are capable of doing that, they are capable of playing at the next level. That’s the core but you’ve got to supplement that because you’re looking at a roster of 28 to 30 players.

On the club changing it’s logo but keeping the color and the name:

The name will stay the same. The logo, however, would change. Not dramatically, we’re not going to go away from Lions and go to Giraffes or something, we’ll still be the Lions, but the logo itself will change because that becomes a trademark, copyright of Major League Soccer. They take responsibility for that and take ownership of it. We’ll take an opportunity to change it, but we’ll still very much be Orlando City, we’ll still very much be the Lions and purple, by the way, will very much be the color. We intend to own that certainly in the U.S. as well as around the world as a brand along with Fiorentina as a brand and color that stands out.

On MLS focusing expansion in the Southeast with Miami and Atlanta:

I think a regional rival always helps. We’ve seen that in the Pacific Northwest, the rivalry between the [Seattle] Sounders and [Portland] Timbers and [Vancouver] Whitecaps. It’s great for the sport, it’s great for the fans, it’s great for the economy. Traveling fans and everything else. So we’d love to see a regional rival. Whether that’s Miami or Atlanta, I’m completely open to. There is plenty of room in the Southeast for two teams, so we’d welcome that and I think the fans would welcome that, too, because it’d give them a regional rival to enjoy taking on and enjoy traveling to, as well.

On the all important vote from Orange County on Oct. 22:

I’m always optimistic. I think we’ve got a great case to make, and I think if you look at the economic impact, the benefits, the community benefits, it just makes all the sense in the world to me. So yes, I’m optimistic for that reason. … I don’t think it’ll be as easy as the city was and as much support as we had there, but I do think we can get it done and we can get a Major League [Soccer] team announced in November.

  1. hildezero - Oct 14, 2013 at 1:46 PM

    I wonder if the stadium in the picture behind the Orlando City crest, is the real purposed stadium that they’re thinking of.

    • ardillapigeon - Oct 14, 2013 at 3:48 PM

      No; it’s an early rendering for AAMI Park in Melbourne. Note the Australian flag to the left. This rendering was from when the capacity was still going to be 20,000; before the success of Melbourne Victory forced the government to increase the capacity.

      It turned out to be a really nice stadium.

  2. footballer4ever - Oct 14, 2013 at 2:02 PM

    Who’s Eli Maning? (shrugs)

    A logo change is more than necessary to turn it from an elementary 3-lions logo to something more credible of a Pro-League criteria. As far as the name, does that mean they will be called “Orlando City” only or the amateurish “Orlando City “Soccer” Club”? Might as well align themselves with the rest of the league and be referred as Orlando City Football Club. Either way, I wish the future Orlando franchise all the best that they can become something like the Seattle Sounders/Portland Timbers of the Southeast.

    • lostintransocean - Oct 14, 2013 at 3:04 PM

      You mean like the Chicago Fire Soccer Club?

      • footballer4ever - Oct 15, 2013 at 1:04 AM

        no, I meant like:
        Seattle Sounders Football Club (SSFC)
        Portland Timbers Football Club (PTFC),
        Toronto Football Club (TFC),
        Vancouver WhiteCaps Football Club,
        New York City Football Club,
        Football Club Dallas (FC Dallas)

        or for teams like the ones below who chose not to include FC or football club, but stayed away from using “soccer club”:

        Philadelphia Union
        DC United
        New England Revolution
        Montreal Impact
        New York Redbulls
        Houston Dynamo
        LA Galaxy
        San Jose Earthquakes
        Sporting Club Kansas City
        Chivas USA- (Not worth even mentioning it)

        Considering Chicago Fire is in a suburban city (Bridgeview, Ill), then the amateurish “soccer club” fits them properly.

        In that case, let’s have the Orlando City soccer club be the second mickey mouse MLS club after Chicago Fire soccer club. ;)

  3. andyboda - Oct 14, 2013 at 2:33 PM

    Large fan base,[ current and potential ] solid management and local gov’t. support and the addition of a new light rail system direct to Downtown makes the future look bright for football fans in Central Florida.

  4. SD1 Timbers Special Forces - Oct 14, 2013 at 3:01 PM

    http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/blogs/political-pulse/os-architect-releases-rendering-of-orlandos-proposed-soccer-stadium-20130930,0,6789138.post

    These are most likely the final renderings of the stadium

    • daguru9 - Oct 15, 2013 at 8:10 AM

      Actually, the club has denied that those are final renderings, it was from earlier design and concept work (back when the original budget was around $110 million). According to the club, the final design of the stadium, based on the new budget and size, has not been agreed upon yet…

      http://www.soccerbyives.net/2013/09/specific-renderings-released.html

    • jennables711 - Oct 15, 2013 at 11:35 AM

      It was already announced by the team that these are NOT the renderings. These were something an architect sent them in an effort to win their bid.

  5. SD1 Timbers Special Forces - Oct 14, 2013 at 3:14 PM

    Why are people so desperate for monotony and conformity? Why is being creative and independent considered amateurish or not aligned? I hate everyone doing the same thing. How does it not make you vomit from boredom?

    Let me spell this out for you, Major League SOCCER. The league they’re suppose to conform to calling it’s sport football, is a Soccer league.

    Damn, we can’t even call it our own thing? We have to call it what Europe does? God I hate followers and submissive obedient conformist. Should Orlando also use Blue and Red as their colors?

    And their logo is professional. Have ever seen Columbus’s logo? Or New England’s and you think Orlando’s is minor league? Wow. If you were a designer and gave your reasons why you believe the logo is weak, then you’d be taken more seriously, but, most sports fans, and Soccer fans specifically have horrible taste in aesthetics. And why would you?

    • footballer4ever - Oct 15, 2013 at 1:28 AM

      With all due respect to your possibly U.S limited knowledge, Europe is not the only one that calls “soccer”, football. Where do you think that futebol, futbol, fussball, futbal, just to name a few, originates or at least it’s derived from? England! where they speak English and where at least professional football developed and it was exported throughout the world. Therefore, “soccer” is for rebel countries like US or Australia in which they have different “footballs”. You call it as monotony /conformity, I see it as identity/tradition. It makes me vomit that Eggball is called football, but again, that’s all you’ve grown to know, so you are forgiven.

      “Soccer fans specifically have horrible taste in aesthetics. And why would you?”

      LOL, you are such a fool and it shows so clearly by your contradicting statements. You are forgiven though. If you were to back up as you speak to validate why OC logo is professional enough and provided enough reasons too other than “their logo is professional” then you’d be respected because at this moment you are not.

    • footballer4ever - Oct 15, 2013 at 1:39 AM

      As far as “God I hate followers and submissive obedient conformist.” and “And their logo is professional”

      Orlando using a “three-lions” logo isn’t that following or being “submissive obedient conformist” , as you put it, to England’s root??? Duh! and you whine that some people call your “soccer”, football. Shame on you!

      Three Lions may refer to:
      The Royal Arms of England, a coat of arms symbolising England (originally England, Normandy and the Duchy of Aquitaine—historically all ruled by Richard I)
      “Three Lions”, a 1996 single, the official anthem of the England football team plus many remakes of the song
      Three Lions (video game), an interactive video game around the game of football (soccer)
      The Three Lions, a nickname of the England national football team
      Coat of arms of Dalmatia Coat of arms of Dalmatia

      If that’s not enough to why the OC logo should be changed to something unique within the city, then you may need some of that $765 million eggball money settlement because you have been affected by just watching it and arguing why football should be called “soccer” by everyone.

    • footballer4ever - Oct 17, 2013 at 12:20 AM

      Woohoo!!! You went MIA? and by MIA, I do not mean Miami International Airport, but Missing In Action? :P

  6. atxnole - Oct 14, 2013 at 4:16 PM

    Super excited for this to hopefully become official! I’m a Man City fan so I’ll pull for NYCFC as a second team, but as someone born in Orlando, I am so happy to finally have an MLS team I can call my own. I don’t follow the league at all due to a lack of connection.

  7. 407magic - Oct 15, 2013 at 12:11 AM

    Can’t wait! The stadium will need some shade especially if still playing in summer tho I’m sure most games are night games. The logo is fine now but a change wouldn’t hurt.

    Orlando has a very large South American and European population and others. Along with tourist from all over the world all year around and the already healthy fan base there should not be a problem filling the new stadium and being a popular team around the world which = $ for mls.

  8. 407magic - Oct 15, 2013 at 12:34 PM

    Orlando city’s owner is from England in case you didn’t know.

    • footballer4ever - Oct 17, 2013 at 12:24 AM

      Thanks for your reply…..I researched further via the Orlando City’s Club’s website and found that there are multiple owners or investors, but the main ones are English and Brasilians.

  9. footballer4ever - Oct 15, 2013 at 6:33 PM

    @407magic

    I thought having read the owner is Brazilian, not English.

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