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Orlando City Notes: Rawlins hopeful for Miami franchise; OCSC to cap seating at Citrus Bowl; and more



ORLANDO, Fla. — A year ago, David Beckham announced his intention to bring a Major League Soccer franchise to Miami, and Orlando City president Phil Rawlins still hopes that idea one day becomes a reality.

“We’ll love to see a franchise in Miami,” Rawlins said at a press conference Thursday. “It’s great for a rivalry, it’s great for being a state rivalry, it’s great for Orlando and Miami to go head-to-head. It’s great for the game, and it’s great for that rivalry.”

Failure to secure a permanent stadium location has resulted in the year-long delay, something which Rawlins said he’s hopeful can end. Miami-Dade County officials unanimously voted earlier this week to temporarily place Beckham’s Miami team at FIU stadium, which sits roughly 18,000 fans. However, MLS has said it requires a permanent soccer stadium as a prerequisite for Miami expansion.

“We’re very hopeful that they’ll achieve success in Miami,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber on the ongoing Beckham predicament. “As an announcement just the other day of the public sector coming together and making some decisions for a temporary venue, should they be able to get a permanent venue selected.

“We’ve been very clear that they need to have a permanent venue for us to grant them an expansion team, it’s no different than any market. David Beckham loves the city, he wants to be here, we’re hopeful we can make progress in the months to come.”

Orlando City in the meantime has shifted its focus on rivalry to fellow expansion-side New York City FC. Orlando City hosts NYCFC on March 8 for the clubs’ inaugural MLS game.

Here are some more Orlando City notes from Thursday:


The mission is on, and operation #FillTheBowl has officially begun, but comes afterward will emulate Orlando City’s soccer-specific stadium, expected to open in 2016.

With a target to reel in roughly 60,000 fans to the renovated Orlando Citrus Bowl on March 8, Rawlins told reporters on Thursday that seating capacity after the club’s inaugural game will be capped to 20,000. There will be no tarp covering the upper bowls during regular season games.

“We will for a majority of the game cap the capacity of the Bowl to around 20,000,” said Rawlins. “We don’t intend to tarp the rest of the stadium. The reason for that is a majority of our games will likely take place in the evening.

“Our fans know by being at the Citrus Bowl before when the sun goes down and we fill up that lower level, it’s a very intimidating and very loud place to be, so no need to tarp when people are focused on the game and focused on watching Adrian [Heath]’s team score goals.”

Orlando City recently surpassed 11,000 season ticket holders, and plans to cap season ticket sales to 14,000 fans before opening day — a target Rawlins is confident of hitting. Regular season single-game tickets go on sale on Saturday.


Orlando City’s search for a starting and experienced center back continues after Brazilian defender Paulo Andre decided not to sign with the Lions.

According to a report from the Orlando Sentinel, OCSC will consider both domestic and international options after the player found the club could not compete with the offers being made by Brazilian clubs.

Heath currently has former Sporting Kansas City star Aurélien Collin and Brazilian defender Gustavo as experienced center backs, while also boasting U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team defenders Tommy Redding and Conor Donovan as inexperienced prospects.

What do you think of a potential Orlando City-Miami rivalry? What do you expect in terms of attendance this season? Any concern over defensive depth?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Great question, but guarantee that number will be increased if ticket demand stays high. Maybe they’re trying to artificially force demand up by limiting number of tickets.

  2. Does anyone know why they’re capping the Citrus Bowl at 20,000? At Montreal Impact’s MLS inaugural game against the Fire, they had a little under 60,000 people at the Big O.

    • Not capped for the first game, expecting 60k. Select games will also not be capped.

      Re Montreal, fans are staying away in droves after only a couple of losing seasons. Not a good sign.

      • Ah gotcha.

        I’m not a stadium expert, but I never understood capping whatsoever regardless of an inaugural game, playoff game, etc. and tarping empty sections. Is it for aesthetics and keeping audiences close together?

      • Orlando City says they won’t tarp any sections.

        Capping is done mainly to keep the fans in a closer cluster to create a more intimate atmosphere and “manage” the look on TV. This Sundays US game vs Panama has only sold 15k so far and the tickets are only sold on opposite side of the field and behind the goals (camera sides). Only a few expensive seats behind the benches are sold on the westside of the stadium.

      • Capping is done to create artificial scarcity. Ticket sales are a big revenue source for teams. Reducing capacity forces fans to buy in advance. The team is then not dependent on walk up sales, which can be hurt by bad weather (rain, extreme heat) in cities like Orlando.

      • In MLS case, it’s really more like what Bargain Baby said above. The majority of these games do not sell out (or really come close), so supply/demand forces do not really drive the decision. It’s much more about marketing and branding…. empty stadiums were killing the in-game and TV-projected experience.

        I do think what you are talking about will indeed become a force in the future (and that’s why teams are “buidling small” rather than building 30-35k seaters that they can “grow into”), but at the moment, they are not really in a position to realize a ticket price premium… the demand just isnt’ there yet.

      • You are forgetting that by capping the number of seats available, you don’t have to staff an entire stadium for 20,000 fans.

  3. Start the team in USL Pro, let them prove themselve as a viable soccer franchise ala Orlando, then “promote” them to MLS.

    Sacramento, you’re on the clock!


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