Exploria Stadium

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Exploria Stadium
Exploria Stadium logo.svg
Orlando City Stadium (04-21-18) 1.jpg
Orlando City SC hosts the San Jose Earthquakes, April 21, 2018.
Exploria Stadium is located in Florida
Exploria Stadium
Exploria Stadium
Location in Florida
Exploria Stadium is located in the United States
Exploria Stadium
Exploria Stadium
Location in the United States
Former namesOrlando City Stadium (2017–2019)
Location655 West Church Street, Orlando, Florida 32805[3][1]
Coordinates28°32′28″N 81°23′21″W / 28.5411°N 81.3893°W / 28.5411; -81.3893Coordinates: 28°32′28″N 81°23′21″W / 28.5411°N 81.3893°W / 28.5411; -81.3893[1][2]
Public transitLocal Transit SunRail Church Street Station
Local Transit Lynx 21, 319
Local Transit Lynx Grapefruit Line
OwnerOrlando City SC
OperatorOrlando City SC
Executive suites31[4]
Capacity25,500[5]
Field size120 yd × 75 yd (110 m × 69 m)[6]
Acreage10
SurfaceGrass
ScoreboardPanasonic[7]
Construction
Broke groundOctober 16, 2014[8][9]
OpenedFebruary 24, 2017 (2017-02-24)[14][15][16]
Construction cost$155 million[10]
ArchitectPopulous[11]
Project managerICON Venue Group[12]
Structural engineerWalter P Moore[13]
Services engineerM–E Engineers, Inc.[13]
General contractorBarton Malow[12]
Tenants
College football

Cure Bowl (NCAA) (2019, 2021–present)

Soccer
Orlando City SC (MLS) (2017–present)
Orlando Pride (NWSL) (2017–present)
Orlando City B (USL) (2017)
Florida Cup (2018–present)
MLS Combine (2018–2019)
Toronto FC (MLS) (2021)

Exploria Stadium is a soccer-specific stadium in downtown Orlando, Florida. The stadium is located along West Church Street in the Parramore neighborhood west of Downtown Orlando. It is the home of Orlando City SC, which entered Major League Soccer (MLS) as an expansion franchise in 2015, and their National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) affiliate club, the Orlando Pride. The stadium was completed in time for Orlando City's home opener of the 2017 season on March 5 and it became the first ever venue to permanently host MLS, NWSL, and USL teams all in the same location that year.[17] Originally known as Orlando City Stadium, on June 4, 2019, it was announced that Exploria Resorts (a timeshare entity based in nearby Clermont) had acquired naming rights to the stadium.[18]

As well as home matches for Orlando City, Orlando Pride, the stadium has also been used as a host venue for both the United States men's and women's national teams, the finals for both the NWSL Championship and NCAA Women's College Cup, numerous Florida Cup games, the MLS Combine in 2018 and 2019, and the 2019 MLS All-Star Game.

Away from soccer, the stadium hosted the 2019 and 2021 Cure Bowl, a college football bowl game, as well as the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games opening ceremony.[19][20]

History[edit]

In April 2013, the City of Orlando purchased downtown land for $8.2 million to be used towards the construction of a $110 million MLS soccer stadium.[21] However, in May, the Florida House of Representatives failed to vote on a bill that had passed the Senate that would have provided up to $30 million in state funds towards the stadium project. Orlando City SC President Phil Rawlins responded by expressing his intent to find alternative funding and keep seeking MLS expansion.[22]

The Orlando downtown soccer stadium moved closer to securing funding on August 8, 2013, when Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer reached an agreement on a deal to provide financial support for a variety of Orlando projects including the new MLS soccer stadium.[23] The last piece in stadium funding was an October 2013 vote on using an existing tourism tax to fund the final quarter of the $80 million stadium project.[24] On October 22, 2013, the Orange County Board of Commissioners voted 5–2 to approve the use of $20 million in tourist development tax funds to build an $84 million multi-purpose soccer stadium in downtown Orlando.[25]

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) announced on December 11, 2013, that the 2016 and 2017 NCAA Women's College Soccer Championship would be held at the new stadium.[26][27]

On August 4, 2014, the team announced that the stadium location would be moved one block west, to avoid having a delay to the opening day, due to Faith Deliverance Temple fighting the city's eminent-domain claim. The new location resulted in the closure of Parramore Avenue between Church Street and Central Boulevard in February 2015,[28] as the stadium was built right on top of where the road currently runs.[1][2]

The club played their 2015 MLS inaugural season home matches at Citrus Bowl.[29] On January 13, 2016, club president Phil Rawlins announced that construction of the team's stadium was taking four months longer than expected and that the team would remain at the Citrus Bowl (since renamed Camping World Stadium) for the 2016 season.[30]

On March 5, 2017, Orlando City began the 2017 season by hosting New York City FC in the stadium's inaugural match. Cyle Larin scored the first goal in stadium history as Orlando won 1–0 in front of a sellout crowd of 25,550.[31]

On July 10, 2019, Orlando City progressed to their first U.S. Open Cup semi-final, defeating New York City FC on penalties after a 1–1 draw. The game received viral media coverage for what became known as "The Running of The Wall" when NYCFC won the coin toss for the penalty shoot-out and elected to kick the penalties in front of an empty South Stand, the opposite side of the stadium to The Wall where the Orlando City supporters were located. The Orlando supporters took it upon themselves to run en masse down the length of the concourse and fill up the stand directly behind the goal the penalties were being taken. Adam Grinwis saved two penalties during the shootout win.[32]

On May 12, 2021, Orlando City majority owner Flavio Augusto da Silva announced he was in advanced negotiations with Zygi and Mark Wilf, owners of the Minnesota Vikings of the NFL, for the sale of the club including the stadium and other related soccer assets. The combined value of the deal was estimated at $400-450 million.[33] The sale was completed on July 21, 2021. [34]

Financing[edit]

Orlando City SC's owners announced on May 29, 2015, that the stadium would be privately funded by Orlando City SC and not the city. They also announced they would upgrade the stadium's capacity from 19,000 seats, to somewhere between 25,000 and 28,000 seats. The new plan was unveiled on July 31, increasing capacity to 25,500 by adding seats to the south end to maximize seats without major design changes that would set back the project by an additional year. Costs also rose from $110 million to $155 million.[35]

As part of the private funding venture for the new stadium, at least $15 million has come from 30 foreign investors in countries such as Brazil and China via the EB-5 investment program, which grants American visas in exchange for a $500,000 investment in the project.[36]

More foreign investors looking to obtain green cards through the EB-5 program are joining this project, which has already created around 1000 jobs and is expected to create around 1000 more in an area that much needed its economic growth.[citation needed]

Design[edit]

The team released artistic renderings of the stadium on December 11, 2012.[37] On September 30, 2013, the architectural firm Woods Bagot released their drawings of the stadium on their website. The team announced that these drawings were released without their knowledge or input, and that they had not selected an architect yet. Woods Bagot proceed to remove the images from their website.[38] The design phase began on January 7, 2014, when Mayor Buddy Dyer and some of the Orlando City SC staff traveled to Kansas City to begin working with the design firm Populous.[11]

The original renderings of the stadium proposed 18,000 seats, including 2,500 club seats. It would also have 300 seats in specialty suites. The stadium's square footage is about 290,000 square feet (27,000 m2), with 120,000 square feet (11,000 m2) devoted to the bowl. It was also supposedly going to have bars, retail shops, and restaurants.[39]

Additional renderings and information about the stadium were released on June 10, 2014. The stadium has an open plaza, where those passing by can see inside, since the field is 8 feet (2.4 m) below street level.[40] It was initially planned to have a seating capacity of 19,500, with the structural ability to expand to 25,000 in the future. This was changed in May 2015 to simply building room for 25,000 in the initial construction, rather than waiting for another construction period.[41] The field is grass, with canopies over fans to protect them from the elements and to increase noise levels. A four times life size lion sculpture was planned to overlook the entrance.[5] Just before a game began, the lion would rotate 180° to "watch" the action. A festival plaza lined with palm trees on the south end of the plaza, just outside the main entrance at Church Street and Terry Avenue was built (the streets are closed to vehicles during events). A balcony-style bar just below the video scoreboard with a 360° view was planned as well. A seating section on the north end is dedicated to members of supporters' clubs. As proposed — and if building codes allow — it has no seats, but rails and extra room for "safe standing". The 3,811-capacity section, known as "The Wall" began as a small but ardent collection of fans from the two main supporter groups, The Ruckus and Iron Lion Firm.[42] The supporters' section would also have its own "pub-style" area.[4][43]

Aerial view of Orlando City Soccer Stadium
Aerial view of Exploria Stadium

Heineken announced a partnership with multiple MLS teams on November 12, 2014, including Orlando City, making Heineken the official beer of the team as well as giving Heineken naming rights to the ground level bar on the south side of the stadium. In addition to the announcement, a new rendering of the south side from inside the stadium was released.[44]

Panasonic was announced as the team's "Official Technology Partner" on December 17, 2014, in exchange for Panasonic providing on-field and fascia LED boards, the main scoreboard on the south end of the field, and dozens of flat panel TV screens throughout the stadium in suites, offices and work areas. In addition, Panasonic provides security cameras, control room and other key components for the new stadium.[7]

The stadium includes 49 rainbow-colored seats in Section 12 as a memorial that honors the victims of the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting.[45][46]

International soccer matches[edit]

Men's matches[edit]

Date Team #1 Result Team #2 Competition Attendance
October 6, 2017  United States 4–0  Panama 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification fifth round 25,303[47]
March 21, 2019  United States 1–0  Ecuador International friendly 17,442[48]
November 15, 2019  United States 4–1  Canada 2019–20 CONCACAF Nations League A 13,103[49]
January 31, 2021  United States 7–0  Trinidad and Tobago International friendly 3,503[50]
March 25, 2021  Canada 5–1  Bermuda 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification first round N/A[51]
July 12, 2021  Jamaica 2–0  Suriname 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup 6,403[52][53]
 Costa Rica 3–1  Guadeloupe
July 16, 2021  Guadeloupe 1–2  Jamaica 6,527[54][55]
 Suriname 1–2  Costa Rica
July 20, 2021  Costa Rica 1–0  Jamaica 10,264[56][57]
 Panama 3–1  Grenada
March 27, 2022  United States 5–1  Panama 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification third round 25,022

Women's matches[edit]

Date Team #1 Result Team #2 Competition Attendance
March 7, 2018  France 3–0  Germany 2018 SheBelieves Cup 6,525[58]
 United States 1–0  England 12,351[59]
March 5, 2020  Spain 3–1  Japan 2020 SheBelieves Cup 7,528[60]
 United States 2–0  England 16,531[61]
January 18, 2021  United States 4–0  Colombia International friendly 2,042[62]
January 22, 2021  United States 6–0  Colombia 3,202[63]
February 18, 2021  Brazil 4–1  Argentina 2021 SheBelieves Cup 1,119[64]
 United States 1–0  Canada 3,104[65]
February 21, 2021  United States 2–0  Brazil 4,000[66]
 Argentina 0–1  Canada 1,348[67]
February 24, 2021  Canada 0–2  Brazil 1,409[68]
 United States 6–0  Argentina 3,702[69]

Other notable soccer matches[edit]

CONCACAF Champions League[edit]

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, CONCACAF selected Exploria Stadium to host the latter stages of the delayed 2020 CONCACAF Champions League in one centralized and neutral location. With the competition paused in March at the quarter-final stage, three of the four ties had already had the first leg contested. Los Angeles FC vs Cruz Azul was the only outstanding first leg and was changed to a single-leg match as a result. All games were played behind closed doors.[70]

Date Team #1 Result Team #2 Competition Attendance
December 15, 2020[71][72] Honduras Olimpia 0–1[a] Canada Montreal Impact 2020 CONCACAF Champions League
quarter-finals
N/A
Mexico Tigres 4–0[b] United States New York City FC
December 16, 2020[73][74] United States Atlanta United 1–0[c] Mexico América
United States Los Angeles FC 2–1[d] Mexico Cruz Azul
December 19, 2020[75][76] Mexico Tigres 3–0[d] Honduras Olimpia 2020 CONCACAF Champions League
semi-finals
United States Los Angeles FC 3–1[d] Mexico América
December 22, 2020[77] Mexico Tigres 2–1[d] United States Los Angeles FC 2020 CONCACAF Champions League
Final
  1. ^ 2–2 on aggregate, Olimpia progressed on away goals rule.
  2. ^ UANL won 5–0 on aggregate.
  3. ^ América won 3–1 on aggregate.
  4. ^ a b c d Single-legged tie.

Florida Cup[edit]

Date Team #1 Result Team #2 Competition Attendance
January 10, 2018 Brazil Corinthians p 1–1 Netherlands PSV Eindhoven 2018 Florida Cup
January 11, 2018 Brazil Atlético Mineiro 0–1 Scotland Rangers
January 10, 2019 Netherlands Ajax 2–2 p Brazil Flamengo 2019 Florida Cup
January 12, 2019 Brazil São Paulo 2–4 Netherlands Ajax
Brazil Flamengo 1–0 Germany Eintracht Frankfurt
January 15, 2020 Brazil Corinthians 2–1 United States New York City FC 2020 Florida Cup
Brazil Palmeiras p 0–0 Colombia Atlético Nacional
January 18, 2020 United States New York City FC 1–2 Brazil Palmeiras 11,569
Colombia Atlético Nacional 2–1 Brazil Corinthians

Friendlies[edit]

Date Team #1 Result Team #2 Competition Attendance
June 28, 2019[78] Mexico Pachuca 1–2 Colombia Independiente Medellín Friendly

MLS All-Stars[edit]

Date Team #1 Result Team #2 Competition Attendance
July 31, 2019[79] United StatesCanada MLS All-Stars 0–3 Spain Atlético Madrid 2019 MLS All-Star Game 25,527

NCAA[edit]

Date Team #1 Result Team #2 Competition Attendance
December 3, 2017 California Stanford 3–2 California UCLA 2017 NCAA Women's College Cup Final 1,938

NWSL[edit]

Date Team #1 Result Team #2 Competition Attendance
October 14, 2017 North Carolina North Carolina Courage 0–1 Oregon Portland Thorns FC 2017 NWSL Championship 8,124

Other sports[edit]

Football[edit]

In May 2019, Cure Bowl officials announced the college football game would be moved to Exploria Stadium from Camping World Stadium. It was the stadium's first non-soccer event.[80] It moved back to Camping World Stadium in 2020 after it was acquired by ESPN Events[81] but returned the following year.

Date Team #1 Result Team #2 Competition Attendance
December 21, 2019[82] Georgia Southern Eagles 16–23 Liberty Flames 2019 Cure Bowl 18,158
December 17, 2021[83] Northern Illinois Huskies 41–47 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers 2021 Cure Bowl 9,784

Other events[edit]

Concerts[edit]

Date Act(s) Event Attendance Additional notes
September 26, 2020 Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra Opening night of 2020–21 concert season First professional orchestra to perform a full concert in a U.S. soccer stadium. Moved from Bob Carr Theater. Reduced capacity due to COVID-19 restrictions.[84]
June 5, 2022 Disney Live Entertainment, Sara Bareilles 2022 Special Olympics USA Games opening ceremony Produced by Disney Live Entertainment. Also featured the Parade of Athletes and the lighting of the Flame of Hope.[85]

Gallery[edit]

Exploria Stadium.
Overview of Exploria Stadium.
Night game at Exploria Stadium.

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Preceded by Home of Orlando City SC
2017–present
Succeeded by
none
Preceded by Home of Orlando Pride
2017–present
Succeeded by
none
Preceded by Home of Orlando City B
2017
Succeeded by
Preceded by Host of the NCAA Women's College Cup
2017
Succeeded by
Preceded by Host of the MLS All-Star Game
2019
Succeeded by