Orlando, FL- It was a great day for the City of Orlando and Soccer fans as ground was broke on the Orlando City Lions new MLS soccer stadium. Team President & Owner Phil Rawlins, majority Owner Flavio Augusto da Silva, head coach Adrian Heath and many of the top Orlando and surrounding city leaders were in attendance at the event, as well as thousand’s of fan that showed up in support.
Fans dressed in purple from head to toe packed downtown at Church Street Station in anticipation of Thursdays ground breaking event. As the very first “March to the Stadium” got under way Phil Rawlins and Adrian Heath led the pack, with drums beating to the roars of the Lion faithful in tune to the heart of their team.
The march took them to the corner of Church Street and Parramore Ave, the site of their future stomping grounds in the MLS. As fans filed in finding their spot at the ceremony, Rawlins took to the mic to get the festivities underway expressing his gratitude,“Thank you everyone, thank you for an absolutely incredible turnout.” as he continued, he gave his thanks to all the people that made the stadium a possibility.
Community support was what inevitably led to Orlando City being able to take this project from concept to reality. With funding from the project coming not only from the City of Orlando and Orlando City Soccer Club, but also from Orange, Seminole, and Osceola counties.
City of Orlando Mayor, Buddy Dyer, spoke of the historical significance of this collaboration during the ceremony, “For the first time in the history of our community, jurisdictions outside of this jurisdiction participated in the funding. So both Seminole County and Osceola County recognized the significance of this project and contributed to a project in Orange County and the City of Orlando.”
As the sunset just after 7:09 pm EST, members of Orlando City Soccer Club, invited guests and leaders of the community lined up along a sandbox filled with purple sand, shovels in hand and hardhats dawned. The announcer took to the count down to make it official, “Now its time for the big moment, on the count of three we are going to take the first dig. One! Two! Three!!”
It will be just 18 months before a single MLS game will be played in the new 20,000 seat stadium and Orlando City owner Flavio Augusto da Silva made it know how important this land was to him and the people that have come to love the Club during the ceremony. “In few months ahead, were gone cry here. Were gonna support here. Were gonna leave great emotions in this land here. I cant wait to come to this place for our first game in our stadium.”
It has been a journey that their fans have followed and supported every step of the way. After the ceremony Phil Rawlins spoke of this immense support, “When we say were going to do something the fans are always behind us. They love us and we love them, its a great marriage.
As a new season full of excitement and unknown approaches Orlando City Soccer Club, they can check one more thing off their to do list. But as the tasks are completed new goals are set and the bar goes higher. “We want to achieve at least the playoffs in the first year.” said Sliva letting the goal be known.
Only time will tell, but if anything is for certain. Its that when it comes to the Orlando City Soccer Club, they say and follow their words up by doing.