The Orlando City Lions spent much of their last season in the USLPro soccer league playing at Walt Disney World’s ESPN WWOS Complex. I imagine that gave plenty of time for the team’s ownership to get to know the team at Disney. You wouldn’t have to dive two deep into either side’s spreadsheet to know that a continued relationship once Orlando City joined the MLS would be mutually beneficial. Therefore, today’s bit announcement doesn’t come as much of a surprise. That said, it is good to see.
Walt Disney World Resort and Orlando City Soccer Club have announced today a multi-year agreement making Walt Disney World Resort a founding sponsor of the Club. The announcement comes at an exciting time, just days before Orlando City Soccer Club’s 2015 Major League Soccer debut on Sunday.
Under the agreement, Walt Disney World Resort becomes the official theme park and resort destination of Orlando City Soccer Club; Disney Cruise Line becomes the official cruise line of the Club; and Disney Vacation Club becomes the official vacation club of the team. Also, Disney will have a significant presence at Orlando City home matches at the Citrus Bowl in 2015 as well as at its future multi-purpose downtown stadium starting in 2016.
Additionally, the new agreement will help bolster Orlando’s and Walt Disney World Resort’s profile in key travel markets, such as Brazil and other Latin American countries where soccer is a national pastime.
Building on the growing sports business at Walt Disney World Resort, the Orlando City Soccer Club will collaborate with ESPN Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney World Resort on a range of soccer events at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The sports complex is the premier site for amateur sports in the nation and has a rich history of hosting a variety of youth and professional soccer events.
“This collaboration further strengthens the existing bond between the two Orlandos – the one known around the world as Disney theme parks and the metropolitan, vibrant growing downtown represented by Purple Pride,” said Club President and Founder Phil Rawlins. “Over 60 million tourists visited Orlando last year – with many coming from Brazil. There’s a natural synergy here to showcase all the wonder that is the City Beautiful. We also look forward to jointly hosting additional high-profile soccer events at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney through this relationship to the benefit of our fans, our community and the region.”
“Orlando City Soccer Club is writing an exciting new chapter in our region’s history,” said George A. Kalogridis, president of Walt Disney World Resort. “We are proud to be part of the community-wide team effort to help the Lions become Central Florida’s next great success story.”
The 2015 Major League Soccer season kicks off at the Orlando Citrus Bowl as the Lions host New York City FC in front of a capacity crowd of more than 60,000 on March 8, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. ET.