Today most soccer fans in the U.S. woke up and greeted the morning with the usual groan and all-but-automatic slap of the alarm clock snooze button, still waiting until a little later in the week to get excited for the MLS Cup Playoffs to resume the second leg of the conference championships. But not in Orlando, FL. In the capital of the sunshine state, soccer fans welcomed the day with an anxious giddiness, like a 6 year old waking up on Christmas morning, because they know that today they get to officially join Major League Soccer with a team they can call their own – at least, that’s the expectation.
According to a press release from Orlando City SC, a “major announcement” is set to be made today, regarding the future of the club. This “major announcement” follows another of its kind from the club in just two days time. Yesterday Orlando City SC announced an extension to its deal with Orlando Health as the official healthcare provider of the club, its future downtown Orlando stadium, and Orlando City Youth Soccer, according to the press release.
Orlando City Phil Rawlins stated,
There is no partner we’d rather have. Orlando Health has always shared our vision of bringing Major League Soccer to Orlando since day one. Not only are we securing a world-class healthcare partner, but we are solidifying a true partnership between two organizations committed to making Central Florida a better place.”
Orlando Health will be the “exclusive provider of medical care Orlando City SC players”, and will provide trainers and on-field services on game day as needed. George Haidukewych, M.D., academic chairman and chief of orthopedic trauma at Orlando Health, added,
We’re excited about this agreement and what it means for us as an organization and this community, which has rallied fervently around Orlando City SC.
Orlando Health has also served as the Jersey sponsor for Orlando City SC, and if today’s announcement is what everyone hopes it is, they could be the “first jersey partner in MLS history to commit to an expansion club before admittance into Major League Soccer.”
Orlando City’s progression and success in recent years, lead by team president Phil Rawlins, and majority owner, brazilian investor Flavio Agosto da Silva, as it does so often in sports, has lead to one pivotal moment that will decide the fate of the club and its future. Though no official statement has been released concerning the topic of today’s announcement, Chris Jones, a spokesman for Orlando City Soccer told Reuters,
We can’t officially comment yet, but we’re obviously having a very, very, very, very, very, very big announcement tomorrow night.
The club has been busy in recent months since the all-star break in July, chasing down, and closing, funding for a downtown Orlando soccer-specific stadium, that will reportedly hold 18,000. The stadium, was the final piece to the MLS puzzle, and the support for the club shined through with a unanimous vote from the Orlando City Board of Commissioners and a 5-2 vote from the Orlando County Commissioners. A CS&L study commissioned by Orlando City SC, estimated that the economic impact to bringing a MLS franchise to the city would be $1.2 billion over a 30 year period, which would more than cover the initial investments, including the club-estimated $70 million MLS franchise fee.
The club has everything in place – all it needs is for MLS Commissioner Don Garber to utter the words that soccer fans in Orlando have been waiting hear for a very long time, “Orlando City, welcome to Major League Soccer”.