ORLANDO, Fla., Oct. 16, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Today marked a monumental celebration for all of Central Florida as an official groundbreaking ceremony was held for Orlando City Soccer Club's new Downtown Soccer Stadium. The state of the art venue will be home to City beginning in the 2016 season.
The ceremony kicked-off by simulating a future game day experience as a Major League Soccer (MLS) team with thousands of fans – donning purple and waving flags – participated in the City Beautiful's first march to the new stadium's location on Church Street.
Orlando City's primary color, purple, was prominent throughout the event, as a ceremonial dig took place, featuring purple shovels and 24 tons of purple sand. In addition, fans were able to participate in the groundbreaking after the formal dig, receiving a commemorative jar containing a sampling of the exclusive purple sand.
Orlando City Majority Owner Flávio Augusto da Silva, President and Founder Phil Rawlins, Major League Soccer President Mark Abbott, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs addressed the attendees at the stadium site, showcasing their eagerness for the newest addition to the vibrant and expanding sports & entertainment district in Downtown Orlando.
Following the ceremony, a post groundbreaking street party took place in the heart of Downtown Orlando at Church Street Station.
"Today marks more than a mere stadium groundbreaking, it marks the beginning of a new era for the community, our fans and our team," said Rawlins. "We are immensely proud to be a part of such a transformational project, which will bring world class soccer to the 'Soccer Capital of the South,' along with economic opportunity and jobs. This stadium will set the cornerstone for development in the Parramore community, and we look forward to contributing to this area's growth well into the future."
Both mayors have been fervent supporters of MLS in Orlando, playing an instrumental role in Central Florida landing the league's 21st team. In 2013, the City of Orlando and Orange County approved the public-private partnership.
"An MLS club is much more than another professional sports team calling Orlando home," said Dyer. "It's about drawing more international tourists, and uplifting our economy, bringing jobs and opportunity to our residents and businesses; it's about a diverse community coming together to cheer on a hometown team; and it's about pride and love for your community."
"Bringing Major League Soccer to Orlando is a huge win for our entire community, and will positively impact our local economy and families, as well as international visitors," said Jacobs. "With the exploding popularity of soccer among Central Florida's youth and adults, and with soccer ranking as the number one international sport, this new outdoor public stadium will be treasured by soccer-loving fans from home and abroad!"
The stadium is being designed and constructed by Populous, Barton Malow, and ICON Venue Group, who are widely renowned for previous works on venues such as Wembley Stadium, 02 Arena and Yankee Stadium.
During construction of the new stadium, the Lions will play their inaugural 2015 MLS season at the Orlando Citrus Bowl, which is currently undergoing a $200 million renovation.
For more information on Orlando City SC or to purchase 2015 MLS Season Tickets, visit www.OrlandoCitySC.com or call 855-ORL-CITY. Also, follow the latest Orlando City news and updates via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
About the Downtown Stadium:
Through a public/private partnership, a new Major League Soccer stadium is being constructed in Downtown Orlando – it will be the future home of Orlando City Soccer Club and host to other major national events throughout the year. Scheduled to open for the 2016 MLS season, the stadium will have an initial capacity of approximately 20,000, will be LEED-certified, and will reflect the character and culture of the community, especially the surrounding Parramore neighborhood, to provide an unparalleled and truly unique fan experience.
The following entities contributed to the stadium: Orlando City Soccer Club, City of Orlando and Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties.
The soccer stadium is part of the Blueprint Initiative that ensures the local community benefits from the construction with 24 percent of the contracts going to minority or women-owned business enterprises. For more information, visit www.OrlandoCitySC.com.
About Orlando City Soccer Club:
Recently ranked 14th among all professional teams in North America, Orlando City Soccer Club (OCSC) is Major League Soccer's newest expansion team. The club will begin play in MLS in 2015, becoming the league's 21st club. The Lions' first team set the U.S. record for best start of any professional soccer club in its first USL PRO league 100 matches (66-12-22). Orlando City has won three USL PRO regular season titles and two postseason championships. Outside of the first squad, OCSC also has a youth club, Orlando City Youth Soccer (OCYS) and a U-23 team that participates in the PDL. For more information on the pro and youth clubs, visit www.OrlandoCitySC.com and www.OrlandoCityYouth.org.
SOURCE Orlando City Soccer Club