ORLANDO (CityofOrlando.net) – The Amway Center. The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. The new Citrus Bowl.
The City of Orlando has had its share of groundbreaking events in the last few years. It is safe to say that the ceremonial groundbreaking for the Orlando City Soccer Stadium in Downtown Thursday evening was unlike any before it.
Thousands of supporters marched from Church Street Station to the stadium site on the corner of Church Street and Parramore Avenue. There they chanted, clapped and cheered as Mayor Buddy Dyer and other officials spoke about the landmark day.
“We are here because of you. Because you believed in MLS,” Mayor Dyer told the fans. “This stadium represents opportunity for the entire community. It’s about bringing international tourists. It is about economic development. It’s about having a sports and entertainment corridor. It’s about lifting up this neighborhood.”
The stadium will open in 2016, Orlando City’s second campaign in Major League Soccer. The venue will feature a full 360-degree lower bowl built below ground level with a unique three-stand seating upper bowl. Full roof canopies will cover seats to protect fans from the sun and rain and are also designed to amplify crowd noise. The stadium will have a capacity of 19,500.
Mayor Dyer joined Orlando City Soccer executives, MLS officials, City Commissioners and local elected officials for the ceremonial first digs, which were followed by fireworks and a loud music soundtrack.
Fans were welcomed to the stadium site by the sounds of the Jones High School band and after the fireworks, were able to dig some of the special purple sand as a keepsake.
“I think it’s safe to say, Orlando has never seen a groundbreaking like this,” Orlando City Soccer President Phil Rawlins said.
From the sounds of the chanting, the supporters in attendance certainly agreed.