SBD/October 25, 2013/Franchises

Orlando City Owner Rawlins Says Team Aims To Make MLS Debut By '15

USL Pro Orlando City SC Owner & President Phil Rawlins said it is the team's "goal to join" MLS by '15 after Orange County commissioners voted Tuesday to put $20M in tourist taxes toward the building of a new stadium. Rawlins, appearing on the North American Soccer Network's "Soccer Morning," said the earliest the team could break ground on its new stadium is next spring and would play in the Citrus Bowl the first season. Rawlins said the decision to move the team from Austin to Orlando in '10 when it was a USL franchise was a "decision of the ownership of the club -- not just myself but all of the owners -- that we really needed to be here if we were to achieve our dreams of being a marketplace that had the possibility and the opportunity" to join MLS. Rawlins added if the team had not "made the move the club likely would have closed down ... (it) was really a case of adapt or die." Rawlins said the club will look to "sign a very high-profile, high-quality" designated player that "will more than likely be a Brazilian player" as Orlando City FC Investor Flavio Augusto da Silva is Brazilian ("Soccer Morning," NASN.tv, 10/24). Soccer blogger Ives Galarcep said Orlando City deserves a "lot of credit because they really pushed and pushed their way into the conversation at a time when a year ago, two years ago, definitely three years ago, Orlando City wasn't even on the radar." Fellow blogger Garrett Cleverly said Orlando City getting the financing "goes to show what fan support can do for a club." Galarcep: "Now it's up to the owners to show that all the things they promised and all the things they said that they could do if they got a team, now it's time to show them proof" ("Soccer By Ives," SOUNDCLOUD.com, 10/23). 
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