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.
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: