By MIKE GRAMAJO
ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando City Soccer Club fans now have a better picture of what their future home will look like.
The team unveiled new renderings for its downtown soccer-specific stadium on Tuesday afternoon. The stadium is expected to be ready for the 2016 Major League Soccer season.
“We wanted to create something where it was very exciting, that was a passionate place to come to. We wanted to create an intense atmosphere,” club president Phil Rawlins told SBI. “We have plenty of time to get this done, we don’t need it open until March of 2016.”
The $110 million stadium, which will be jointly funded with public and private money, will seat approximately 19,500 fans with room to expand to 25,000. The natural-grass stadium will also feature an open south end with a view of downtown Orlando’s skyline. The field and the lower bowl will both be below ground level.
“A bad place for away teams to come and play,” Rawlins said about what he was looking for in the designs. “And a part of that is the noise our fans make, so we built our roof line to be a flat roof line so the noise bounces off the roof and comes back down to the stadium to create a cacophony of noise.”
While Orlando City Stadium isn’t expected to open until 2016, Rawlins did say that the naming rights of the Lions’ future home is under consideration, and that there are four candidates currently in dialogue with the club.
Designing the proposed downtown stadium will be Populous, the group behind MLS stadiums such as Kansas City’s Sporting Park and BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston. A groundbreaking date hasn’t been revealed, but according to an Orlando City spokesperson, the stadium will take 18 months to complete.
Other stadium features include a single-deck supporters’ section, nearly 40 luxury suites, and multiple VIP hospitality areas. An open plaza leading into the Church Street corridor will serve as a gathering area for fans.
Orlando City is expected to begin play in 2015 at a renovated Orlando Citrus Bowl, which is undergoing a $200 million renovation that should be finished by the end of this year.
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