Orlando City To Play First MLS Season In Citrus Bowl Due To Stadium Construction Delays
Incoming MLS expansion club Orlando City SC announced that it will play its entire inaugural season of '15 "in the renovated Citrus Bowl," while opening the '16 season in a new soccer-specific stadium, according to Tenorio & Schlueb of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. The club cited "delays in the City of Orlando's acquisition of land required for the downtown, soccer-specific stadium" for the one-year hold up. Orlando City COO Brett Lashbrook: "The fact that the venue is a $200-million renovated Citrus Bowl, it’s going to provide a great atmosphere and a great fan experience for our inaugural MLS season." Tenorio & Schlueb report the city of Orlando has "bought most of the two square blocks of land on West Church Street where the stadium is supposed to be built." The final parcel "not under the city’s control is Faith Deliverance Temple, a family-owned church." City officials and members of the church family have "been in stop-and-go talks about buying the small church for nearly a year." The stadium issues are "a blemish for MLS, which has long declared expansion-hopeful cities must commit to building a soccer-specific stadium in order to receive a club." Club officials maintain this delay is "not a sign of any extensive issues with the stadium agreement" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 4/22).