Orlando City’s MLS debut set to fill newly renovated Citrus Bowl


Ty Wright / Valencia Voice

Last time Orlando City SC played in the Citrus Bowl they won the 2013 USL PRO championship 7-4.

Operation ‘Fill the Bowl,’ Orlando City Soccer Club’s steadfast social media campaign to pack the house at the Citrus Bowl for their first-ever MLS game against New York City FC was a monumental success for the Lions.

“I always felt we would get there, but to get there a week early is amazing,” team president Phil Rawlins told MLSsoccer.com. “It is a tribute not only to our staff, but to the community and our fans as well. It’s great to feel the buzz around the city.”

The LA Galaxy hold the record for attendance in team debuts with 69,255 at the Rose Bowl in 1996, a mark that the Lions will come close to with a number just over 62,000.

The team will play their home games in the newly renovated Citrus Bowl for the 2015 season as their soccer-specific stadium is currently being built and is expected to be ready for the start of the 2016 season.

The revamped Citrus Bowl went through a ten-month overhaul that cost over $200 million.

Orlando City had planned on only opening up the upper bowl for the inaugural match, keeping the limit of seating to around 20,000 for the remainder of the season. The club’s second match against Vancouver on March 21 is nearing a lower bowl sellout and has opened up the discussion of expansion for other games.

“It is something we’re now having to look at as a matter of urgency,” Rawlins continued to say. “The interest and excitement in our first few games has been even greater than anticipated, so we’ll have to come up with a new plan to meet that demand.

“We knew Sunday’s game would always be a one-off, hence we’re not looking to sell 60,000 tickets every time, but how many we can have for the other games has yet to be defined. It is a good problem to have, though.”

The club released 2,000 standing room only tickets on Wednesday and those tickets sold out in less than 24 hours, bringing the expected attendance for Sunday’s MLS debut to just north of 62,000. That number would put Orlando City in the top 10 of MLS’ highest attendance rankings.

With 62,000 fans expected in attendance on Sunday it’ll mark the first event of any kind to fill the Citrus Bowl since the renovations, as the recent Russell Athletic and Buffalo Wild Wings Bowls didn’t to break the 50,000 mark.