Why Orlando Stadium Delay is Good For Fans

Opening Orlando City's new stadium in 2016 will have a positive impact
by Chris Kimball   |   Thursday, April 24, 2014

Purple Pride – column on Orlando City SC (OCSC) & the Orlando & Central Florida area soccer scene.

To the surprise of no one, word came this week that Orlando City's new soccer-specific stadium will not be ready next summer as planned, but will instead open its doors at the start of the 2016 season.

Construction of the stadium has been delayed due to a standoff between the city of Orlando and the owners of a small parcel of land on the stadium site. Despite a judge's ruling allowing seizure of the land through eminent domain, the city has chosen, for now at least, to negotiate a fair price with the owners.

An initial offer for twice the land's market value was promptly rejected by the owners who countered with a demand of nearly 50 times the property's appraised value. Following that unexpected volley the negotiations stalled.

The initial plan was to play half of next season in the Citrus Bowl, the team's home for 3 prior seasons, and then move into the new stadium for the second part of the campaign. But with no hope of meeting their self-imposed construction schedule, the club finally decided it would have to play the entire 2015 season, its first season in MLS, in the Citrus Bowl.

It feels like bad news. But the revised schedule, while unfortunate for the image it portrays in the short term, is in fact a preferable arrangement that will ultimately benefit the team and its supporters.

For starters, the new stadium will now open its doors on the same day the team opens its season, which is just as it should be. The long, otherwise dreary offseason will now be filled with heightened anticipation as fresh images of the stadium's construction percolate through the socialsphere.

Opening a new, downtown stadium will be a seminal event for soccer-loving Central Floridians. Its one of those rare, communal moments that actually merits the pomp and circumstance bestowed upon it. There will no longer have to be a messy, mid-season switch from one venue to another, which would only serve to diminish the importance of the event.

Orlando City also finds itself in the enviable position of christening two new sport venues at the start of consecutive seasons. The Citrus Bowl is itself undergoing a massive renovation to the tune of $200 million. The buzz for MLS leading up to next season will already be deafening, but playing in a reconstructed Citrus Bowl will serve to magnify it. Add to the mix 1 or 2 high-profile designated players and Orlando City's front office should have plenty of ammunition to drive ticket sales for the long-haul.

Best of all, should the demand for tickets explode, the Citrus Bowl can easily accommodate the overflow, thereby assuring that any curious newcomers to the team will be able to purchase affordable seats and hopefully be transformed into lifelong Orlando City supporters.

NEXT UP: April 26 - Orlando City SC vs. Oklahoma City Energy, Pribil Stadium, Oklahoma City, Okla. 8 p.m. EST. YouTube live stream.

Chris KIMBALL

Nationality:
USA
College:
William & Mary
Club Domestic:
Orlando City
Club Foreign:
Tottenham Hotspur
Christopher is editor of Orlando Soccer Daily, covering the beautiful game for central Florida. A retired music exec turned soccer fanatic, he landed in Florida via Paris & Boston. When not working he's usually chasing after his 2 sons or suffering after
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