Dignitaries and fans participate in a landmark day for the City Beautiful
Photos courtesy of Orlando City Soccer Club
Yesterday 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.
Originally published by Orlando City Soccer Club