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Orlando’s dream comes true, as MLS community celebrates new stadium deal

Oct 23, 2013, 7:40 AM EDT

Their will be a few sore heads in Central Florida this morning, but they won’t care… a soccer-specific stadium is coming to town.

On Tuesday evening Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and the rest of the council voted in favor of funding to allow Orlando City Soccer Club to build a 18,000 seat stadium in downtown Orlando, all but sealing MLS’ 21st franchise in the process.

This is huge news.

And the soccer community across the United States of America knows it. After years of hard work since Orlando City became a USL Pro franchise three seasons ago, what many regarded as the final obstacle was approved and now the final negotiations to make Orlando MLS’ 21st franchise can be squared away.

(MORE: Orlando City all but set as 21st MLS franchise)

The stadium sparks a new era for soccer in Florida, and looks to have MLS returning to Florida to ignite the Southeast region and further expansion in Miami and Atlanta.

“We thank the Orange County and City of Orlando Board of Commissioners for their support to build a soccer-specific stadium in downtown Orlando,” MLS president and deputy commissioner Mark Abbott said in a statement. “We also would like to thank [owners] Flavio Augusto da Silva, Phil Rawlins and their staff for their passion and commitment to bring a Major League Soccer team to Orlando.

“We look forward to working with the Orlando City SC ownership group to finalize an expansion agreement.”

Following the vote which approved $20 million worth of Orange County funding would be used for the Lions’ new stadium, an outpouring of delight erupted on Twitter and social media across U.S. soccer. Here’s a small selection of how the events played out.

First of all tension built up to the vote from Orange County that was televised, as plenty of speakers issued their support for MLS in Orlando, including the father of USMNT and Sporting KC midfielder Graham Zusi.

While MLS President and Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott chats about the MLS benefits in Orlando prior to the vote.

A huge crowd gathered inside the County Administration building, as fans, locals and club officials began to pledge their support for MLS in Orlando.

Then, the moment of truth arrived and Orlando City celebrated a soccer specific stadium.

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs shows her support for Orlando City.

Yours truly got in on the act as congratulations for Orlando City poured in from across the world.

Barclays Premier League side Stoke City, who have close financial links with Orlando and close ties to President Phil Rawlins, sent out the following message:

Steven Goff from the Washington Post revealed the deal for OC to join MLS is all but done.

Grant Wahl is looking forward to two new MLS teams in 2015.

And finally, Orlando gave a not so subtle nudge to MLS Commish Don Garber….

Garber replied with the following:

  1. godsholytrousers - Oct 23, 2013 at 8:24 AM

    NYCFC = 20
    OCFC = 21

    Who are the next three?
    Miami? OKC? St. Louis? Carolina? Atlanta? San Antonio? Phoenix? Edmonton?
    Sacramento? Las Vegas?

    Who am I missing?

    • babatundew - Oct 23, 2013 at 12:18 PM

      Is San Diego not an option anymore?

  2. gsalamone99 - Oct 23, 2013 at 9:36 AM

    Why expand in cities where others have failed.

    Maybe OKC can be a fit.

    I’d stay away from Miami and Atlanta

  3. footballer4ever - Oct 23, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    Concrats, Orlando City…now go on modify that club name to Orlando City Football Club, get a better logo and make sure not to become a disappointment to our league because we already have ChivasUsa for that and some other dwindling clubs out there.

    • atxnole - Oct 23, 2013 at 11:09 AM

      Apparently the crest will be redesigned by MLS themselves as they own the visual identity of the clubs or something along those lines. The Orlando City name and the purple/red color scheme are definitely staying though — Rawlins pointed out he liked the Fiorentina comparison recently. I think “Soccer Club” could go though as I believe I heard Rawlins simply use “Orlando City Lions” at one point yesterday.

  4. vtcrusade - Oct 23, 2013 at 11:14 AM

    Meanwhile New England still shares Gillette Stadium with the Patriots, and it looks like the cleaning crew is there in the stands when games are played.

    Come on Kraft! Get off your @$$ with the false promises and endless excuses and get the Revolution their own Soccer specific stadium! If Orlando can do it, so can you!

  5. orbmech - Oct 23, 2013 at 12:14 PM

    They will probably get lots of away fans – fly in Friday night after work, Disney during the day Saturday, game Saturday night, fly home Sunday. Exhausting but lots of fun!

  6. drewvt6 - Oct 23, 2013 at 12:54 PM

    Can we at least upgrade the clipart crest? Pretty sure I can draw a better one in MS Paint.

    • jdfsquared - Oct 23, 2013 at 1:13 PM

      Don’t count on it. Tho I’m a Timbers fan, I gotta say the MLS crest can’t hold a candle to the old crest (or even the Timbers Army crest). Talk about clipart… seems to be MLS’ MO.

      • overtherepermanently - Oct 23, 2013 at 4:34 PM

        As an MLS ’96er, I wear the New England “Fart Flag” as a badge of honor. No but seriously, they have never gotten the crests right.

  7. hildezero - Oct 23, 2013 at 1:54 PM

    18,000? I thought it was a 20,000 seater?

  8. 407magic - Oct 23, 2013 at 4:20 PM

    They’ll make it 20,000 seats. Also if you go to Disney you’ll need more than Saturday day to get your $ worth.

    With millions of foreign tourist at any given week there should be no problem selling out this new stadium.

    Next 2 teams will be southern teams to fill out the south.

  9. seanb20124 - Oct 23, 2013 at 5:02 PM

    DC United stadium updates?

  10. gsalamone01 - Oct 23, 2013 at 5:07 PM

    I have issues with going above 20 teams. I seriously think this will hurt the depth of the league. Will lessons of the NASL not be remembered?

    Anyway. I understand that Orlando drew 20k for the USL final but is this really the best spot for a team? With a new stadium and higher ticket price will fans go to teh games when the team is bad?

    Fusion, Mutiny. Why didnt they work. What has changed. Just look at all the other pro sprts their. No1 goes to jax jaguars games, dolphin games, marlins, rays, magic. Bucs do draw.

    When does expanision end? Miami nxt, st. louis, vegas, Sacramento?

    Why cant we focus on
    getting everyone into soccer specific stadiums
    Improve schedule issues.
    Pass the Liga MX
    Get NYCFC a stadium in Manhattan
    Salary cap

    • reformed2012 - Oct 23, 2013 at 6:25 PM

      Things are very different since then.

      We have a democratic POTUS.
      We have much higher GDP, more money concentrated in the 1%
      We have higher inflation
      Stock market and bitcoin prices are going higher.
      International investment in the U.S. is increasing.
      The government have found unlimited credit limit

  11. christophershearin - Oct 23, 2013 at 10:03 PM

    how did a 3rd tier USL team leapfrog a 2nd tier nasl team to move strait to mls? it makes no sense… we need relegation and promotion if we want mls to be anything more than a novelty

  12. journeyman22 - Oct 24, 2013 at 8:39 AM

    If Chivas can get moved out of LA and re-branded, there would still be four openings for a bunch of cities to compete for. Detroit, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Miami, San Antonio, Sacramento all want teams (sure there are more), so MLS can afford to be a bit picky. Good ownership, soccer-specific stadiums, etc. Let’s do this the right way.

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