On July 31, 2013 during the MLS All Star Game, Commissioner Don Garber announced that the league would expand to 24 teams by 2020. This gave the Orlando based club a major boost towards their MLS bid. On November 19th, 2013 after the Orange County Board of County Commissioners approved the use of $20 million in county Tourist Development Tax towards a new stadium, MLS commissioner Don Garber announced the franchise agreement to make Orlando City the league’s 21st team. The team will pay a $70 million entry fee to play in the league.

As part of the agreement, the team is expected to build a “soccer-specific” stadium to accommodate approximately 18,000 fans including a roof over the fans to keep the noise inside the stadium to create a unique soccer atmosphere. The team has also been offered 2 MLS All-Star Games and several international games starting in 2015. Orlando City is expected to start playing in the MLS in March 2015 in the Florida Citrus Bowl stadium before moving to a $96.5 million stadium that will be located in downtown Orlando. The stadium will be funded using private and public funds, Brazilian owner Flávio Augusto da Silva has agreed to make an $80 million investment towards the stadium. The rest of the money will come from Tourist Development Tax collected in Orange County

Economic and Fiscal Impact:

Orlando City Soccer Club commissioned Conventions Sports & Leisure (CSL) to produce an economic & fiscal impact study to analyze the impact the new stadium would have in the State, Orange County and the City of Orlando.  To estimate the economic and fiscal impact, CSL took into account the net new spending resulting from the new stadium, this enabled them to estimate the total output, numbers of jobs, income and tax revenue generated by the new facility. Based on a 30 year accumulation of Net Present Value (NPV), the state can expect $281 million in new direct spending which would translate into $442 million in Output, 140 permanent jobs, $222 million in Income and $16.1 million in Tax Revenue. Orange County is expected to experience $463 million in new direct spending which would translate into $800 million in Output, 250 permanent jobs, $382 million in Income and $28.8 million in Tax Revenue[1]

Team owners are working closely with Visit Orlando to promote the team locally and internationally particularly in Brazil due to the team’s unique owner composition. On an interview with NBC Sports ProSoccerTalk, co-owner Phil Rawlins expressed his vision of bringing the MLS to one of the most visited cities in the country by saying that “We have the most visited city in the world and we are marrying it with the world’s biggest game. The possibilities of that on a global scare are endless[2]”. According to the City of Orlando, an MLS team would further drive tourism to the region through regular season games, All-Star Games and International Matches[3]. The team is committed to make a marquis signing that would have the same effect David Beckham had with the Los Angeles Galaxy. This player would give the team brand recognition, increase ticket and merchandise sales and bring significant economic growth to the city of Orlando.

Background:

The Orlando City Soccer Club known as “The Lions” was founded on October 25, 2010. They currently play in the United Soccer Leagues (USL Pro) and have been the most successful team in the lower division in the country.  The team has been USL Pro Champions in two occasions (2011, 2013), in addition to their success on the field, the team has been popular off the field having the highest attendance per game for the 2012 season.  They currently play at the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium but starting in 2014, the team will move to Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sport Complex.



[1] “Conventions Sports & Leisure”, “Orlando City Economic Impact Study” (accessed 12 Dec. 2013)

[2] Phil Rawlins, interview by Joe Prince-Wright, Sitdown with Orlando City: Sellout crowds, becoming best in MLS, soccer pyramid stronger – Part II, Dec 2. 2013, ProSoccerTalk, NBC

[3] “What is the Economic Impact of an Orlando MLS Team?”,  <http://www.cityoforlando.net/elected/venues/mls/eco_impact.htm> (accessed 11 Dec. 2013).