Great news soccer fans. ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World will host Orlando City Lions Soccer Club for its 2014 season. The team is relocating due to renovation work at its current home of the Orlando Citrus Bowl. Additionally, a new stadium built with soccer in mind has been approved, so the Lions may have played their last game in the Citrus Bowl (depending on when it is able to re-open).
Although the deal isn’t 100% in stone, it’s generally accepted that the 2015 season will see Orlando’s team join Major League Soccer. So it will be an interesting transition year, to say the least. Disney and ESPN WWOS already have a great relationship with the MLS via Disney’s Pro-Soccer Classic and have hosted some training and sub-teams of various European clubs as well.
“We hope our fans are as thrilled as we are to call ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex our home field for the 2014 season,” said Phil Rawlins, president of Orlando City Soccer Club. “With professional sporting event experience, premier soccer fields and world-class amenities, this facility will enable us to play all of our home games in one location and in a venue where our fans will be closer to our players than ever before. We look forward to next year’s possibilities before hopefully heading into MLS for the 2015 season.”
To enhance the experience for spectators, additional stadium seating is planned to surround all four sides of the soccer field at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. With increased capacity of approximately 5,200, the stadium will be one of the largest soccer venues in Central Florida, expanding capacity foreven more fans to attend the Lion’s matches in 2014. Other amenities include free parking and a wide variety of food and beverage offerings.
“The team has really enjoyed playing on top-class, grass surface during Disney’s Pro-Soccer Classic for the past three years,” said Head Coach Adrian Heath. “We’re very excited and hope that our fans will enjoy every match in 2014 from beginning to end.”
The Orlando City games builds on the growing portfolio of professional and youth soccer events at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex as well as adds to the list of major pro sports events held in recent years at the complex, including the Disney Pro Soccer Classic, Atlanta Braves spring training, the Tampa Bay Bucs training camp, the NBA Pre-Draft Camp and Tampa Bay Rays regular-season games among other events.
Tickets for the 2014 season will go on sale immediately. Season ticket holders for 2014 receive first choice of seats for the 2015 season, which Orlando City expects to be its inaugural season in MLS.
The Florida Citrus Bowl is expected to re-open in early 2015 after undergoing more than $200 million in renovations. For more information on the Lions’ 2014 season, please check OrlandoCitySoccer.com.
(Photo courtesy of Aurora McBride-Moore)