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Ryan the Magic Fan

Orlando moving up to secure an MLS bid?

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I know this is a Tampa sports site, but as we are all Central Floridians here so I wanted to share this with yall, as it is a story I have closely been following:

 

So the boys over at this soccer site Goal.com (i guess they are kind of a big site, no clue really) have composed a list of what they believe are the big players for the 20th MLS bid. For those of you that don't know, the MLS expanded this year with the Vancouver Whitecaps and Portland Timbers to 18 teams. They will add the Montreal Impact next year to take it to 19. By sometime in 2012-2013 they want to have decided who will become the MLS 20th team (which will probably be the last expansion they do for a while, upper soccer leagues normally dont get much bigger).

 

Anyway these guys really like Orlando's chances. They updated the page after OC's big win in their championship game.

 

Orlando, Florida

 

Population rank: 79th

Sports franchises: NBA

Current soccer franchise: Orlando City Soccer Club (USL)

 

Positives: Orlando City just won the USL championship in the past week over Harrisburg City. During the season, the club averaged over 6,000 in attendance, with a high of 11,220 in the championship game. The club actually had a winning record against MLS teams in the preseason, defeating both the Philadelphia Union and Toronto FC. Home games are currently played in the Citrus Bowl, which seats 70,000 and recently underwent renovations. Orlando City is owned by director of English Premier League club Stoke City, Phil Rawlins.

 

Negatives: With the two failed franchises in Florida, it would seem that the MLS is hesitant to return to the Sunshine state. However, that does not seem to be the case for Orlando, which has not fielded team like Tampa and Miami. While the city might not routinely bring 36,000+ to the football stadium like Seattle, Orlando has shown it can provide the numbers Commissioner Garber wants in a new team.

 

Robison’s take: Orlando has surged past the other cities listed over the past year. With a successful 2011 season, both in play and in attendance, the overwhelming support for the city’s introduction to MLS has escalated the club to the top of the ranks along with New York and St. Louis. This looks like this could be the destination of the next franchise in 2013.

 

http://www.goal.com/en-us/news/1110/major-league-soccer/2011/09/08/2534291/a-comprehensive-breakdown-of-available-cities-for-the-20th (scroll to the bottom of the page for Orlando and also Tampa, who is listed as well with their chances)

 

I personally also think that if the city can get behind this, Orlando could very well secure the last bid. The two biggest roadblocks are where will they play, and the expansion fee (which currently is at 40 mil, but will probably go up). How they handle those two things will really be the deciding factor in the whole thing. The citrus bowl will either need to finally start those renovations, Tinker Field will need to be converted into a soccer field (like what Portland did to get there expansion), or finally a small 20000 seat soccer specific stadium will need to be built somewhere near downtown.

 

I personally love the last idea. With the Amway Arena going down there will be a big open lot with not much in concrete plans to use it for. This will put the team much closer to downtown church street, and will gain the support of the businesses down there who could use the economic boost of the period that the NBA is not in session when Orlando City plays. Right now people are not really willing to either pay for parking twice at the citrus bowl then again downtown to party, or walk that long way through paramore late at night. It's also a much cheaper option then the 170 million dollar renovation plan to the citrus bowl, as SSS are normally much cheaper (think UCF's Bright House cost's) and will save some money for the expansion fee. Plus it will look a heck of a lot better to have a filled up smaller stadium over a half filled massive stadium. That being said the citrus bowl would be the strongest bet to take it, as the city itself needs the citrus bowl to go through to hang onto the few football games it has.

 

The positives though for Orlando City are numerous. Strong ownership from a Director of an English Premier League team that has made no bones about his plans to turn Orlando City into an MLS expansion. Winning the lower division they play in and winning it convincingly. Strong fan support, averaging over 6000 a game, higher then any non MLS franchise in the states. A area where many transplant Europeans live who love to go to soccer matches, or visiting Europeans would gladly go to see there teams play friendlies. And the team would have no competition, as the MLS season runs almost exactly counter to the NBA season.

 

The strongest competition will come from St. Louis, Atlanta, and New York. St. Louis has the backing and the fan support, but as there are already a few mid-west teams, they may have to wait a little while. Atlanta and New York are a whole other matter. Atlanta has Falcons owner Arthur Blank signing the checks, and he is hott on bringing a team to the MLS. That and the MLS wants badly to expand into the Southeast market (a thing that also works in Orlando's favor). Then there are the New York Cosmos, who until only recently, many thought would go without challenge as the 20th team. MLS desperately wants to make a rivalry between them and the Red Bulls, to try and boost sagging support in New York. If they can secure a stadium deal, they will probably get it.

 

But again Orlando City holds a lot of cards. If the city can get behind it quickly and effectively, they just might swipe the bid. What do yall think? Ready to see Major League Soccer return to the state of Florida?

 

Hoisting-The-Trophy-575x383.jpg

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It may or may not be true, but I wouldn't look to goal as credible at all. They are a site that runs with any rumor that is floated. So until the Ives Galarcep or Grant Wahl are writing about it, take it with a grain of salt.

 

They pimped this real hard over here, so it wouldn't surprise me at all.

 

Wanted to get to a game, but never did.

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