Orlando City SC sets another milestone with groundbreaking

“One step closer boss, one step closer,” said Orlando City SC manager Adrian Heath to club president Phil Rawlins as they embraced moments before shovels dug into purple sand on Thursday for the groundbreaking of the Lions’ new $110 stadium.

Thousands of supporters, along with players and club officials turned out downtown to march to the honorary groundbreaking site, where in 18 months time a new soccer-specific stadium will stand.

The groundbreaking comes a little short of a year since the club first announced that they would make the jump with a celebration in Church Street’s famed Cheyenne Saloon, on Thursday the club made another leap giant step towards a dream that team president Phil Rawlins came to Orlando with in 2010.

“You always need a home, you need somewhere to call home and you want somewhere where your fans can enjoy the game to the very best of their abilities.” said Rawlins after the groundbreaking ceremony.

After speeches were made by both mayors Buddy Dyer and Teresa Jacobs, and MLS president Mark Abbott, shovels were dug into purple sand and the start of a new era in Orlando sports had begun.

The stadium is expected to be completed in 15 months according to Rawlins, and with the groundbreaking coming earlier than expected the stadium is already ahead of schedule. Orlando City will play the 2015 MLS season in the newly renovated Citrus Bowl, before opening up the 2016 season in their new home off Parramore Ave. and Church St.

“This is the best location for a stadium in the whole United States,” said Rawlins of the new stadium site. “And we’re delighted to be here. The future of downtown Orlando for the next 10 years is incredibly bright.”

Now with the stadium deal done and construction about the begin the focus shifts back to the product on the pitch. The club currently has one Designated Player signed in Kaka, and a few MLS contracts dished out to Kevin Molino, Darwin Ceren and Luke Boden among others, but they will need to fill a roster around these guys that will be able to compete at top-level of American soccer.

“I know their committed to it,” said MLS president Mark Abbott about the club’s ability to make the transition from USL PRO to MLS. “And I would never rule Flavio out and I’d never rule this city out.”

With all the pomp and circumstance of Thursday it’s easy for some to forget the man who many looked at as the final piece of the MLS puzzle for Orlando City, majority owner Flavio Augusto da Silva. Augusto da Silva came into the franchise two years ago and ever since his introduction the club has made consistent progress towards their MLS dreams.

“I feel like today was a very important start and a very emotional start also,” said majority owner Flavio Augusto da Silva. “I’m talking to you right now stepping here in the same place where the game is going to take place, so in a few months ahead this place is going to be packed with people here supporting loud and crying sometimes. This is fantastic.”

There are still a few key dates coming up for Orlando City, as the club plans on rolling out their new MLS Adidas jerseys for next season, as well as a ribbon cutting for the new Citrus Bowl, certainly new players will be signed along the way to fill out the club’s first MLS roster, the question now is who fills the leadership roles left by Miguel Gallardo and Rob Valentino.