Citrus Bowl Tabbed As Orlando Venue For Potential MLS Club

Citrus Bowl Tabbed As Orlando Venue For Potential MLS Club

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On December 1, 2011
  • Features, MLS Expansion, Orlando, Orlando Expansion

Could the Citrus Bowl work for MLS? (Photo via Orlando Weekly)

I think it is fair to say by now that Orlando is in the mix for the MLS expansion race. Maybe not club number 20 but certainly number 21, whenever that may be. Major League Soccer is likely hoping to use other cities – like Orlando  – to help push the bid for a second New York club in the league.

But say for a minute that the New York thing doesn’t happen and the league gets tired of waiting. They go a different route and that route could be Orlando. I’ve mentioned before how I like Orlando as a potential MLS city.

Here is where things get slightly tricky. A potential MLS club in Orlando – whenever that may be – will likely play in the aging Citrus Bowl.

“I can see us playing in either [a newly-renovated Citrus Bowl or a soccer-specific stadium],” Rawlins said. “The city and the county has $185 million set aside for the refurbishment of the Citrus Bowl and we’re in talks with them about that. As long as that money is used wisely and well, then I can see us playing in a refurbished Citrus Bowl.”

A renovated Citrus Bowl could be fine, depending on how it is done. Obviously getting a SSS is the key goal for a city like Orlando. Having the stadium plan in place is vital for getting the league’s attention as a serious expansion destination.

Next of course is money and who is funding all of this. For the club’s stand point, you have to wonder if Phil Rawlins and his group have the cash to be a heavy player in the minds of the league’s front office here. They’ve obviously done well in the USL and hopefully after a couple years they continue the upward trend to really make things interesting. But do they really have the cash for all of this? Time will tell.

Orlando City’s owners claim they have signed a non-disclosure agreement with MLS and analyzing business models to bring MLS soccer to Central Florida.

Something may be there after all.

  • Stephen

    As I see it, with the annoucement of the unbalanced 34 game schedule for 2012 , (which is a two year commitment now in order for everyone to play everyone home and away), the next round of expansion, “Team 20”, not be added till 2014.  So, analyzing the four major candidates, Detroit, Las Vegas, New York City and Orlando.  If, New York City, doesn’t get a stadium built by 2014, (which I doubt will happen, knowing, the NYC bureaucracy.  They will be lucky to have the stadium built by 2016) look to Orlando.  Orlando stands out head and shoulders over the rest.  Recent history shows that the best success comes from promoting exiting USL or NASL clubs.  However, if your city isn’t selected at this go around, there will be at least two more opportunities (20 to 22 teams and 22 to 24 teams).  With the commitment to 34 game unbalanced schedule it is only natural that at some point the league will grow to 24 franchises (22 games within your conference and 12 games against the other conference) before expansion will be capped.  But, we will certainly see a bit of a slowdown in expansion, with NYC2 guaranteed for “Team 21”, which should happen by 2016.  Which will happen to coincidence with the renewal of their national TV contacts.