In 2016, Copa America, South America's prestigious confederation tournament, will be held in the United States to celebrate its centennial. On Thursday, CONCACAF and CONMEBOL announced the 24 cities vying to be one of the spots as a host location.
Orlando City SC, in conjunction with the Central Florida Sports Commission and Orlando Venues, will bid to host games in the newly rebuilt Citrus Bowl. If chosen as a host site, this tournament could be very helpful in marketing the club internationally.
The possibility of Orlando hosting the tournament could be quite good. Three cities in Florida are bidding for the opportunity to host the Copa America tournament. The other two are Jacksonville and Tampa. While both of those cities have their own NASL clubs, Orlando will be the only city in the state with an MLS club.
Orlando City SC's inaugural MLS campaign next year could go a long way to helping the city host the tournament. NASL clubs generally only get between 5,000 and 10,000 fans per game, while MLS clubs averaged nearly 20,000 per game last season. If Orlando City can manage around the league average in 2015, with no other MLS clubs in the southeast, tournament organizers may grant Orlando host city rights, since they would have much higher local club attendance.
Orlando hosting the tournament would have several positive effects on the club. The most obvious one is marketing. If the Citrus Bowl is granted a position as one of the eight Copa America host venues, the club will be promoted throughout all of South America. The entire continent watches this tournament and will be tuned in for this centennial event.
Games played at the Citrus Bowl will be viewed by millions in the southern hemisphere and around the world as they see promotions for the local club. And with a capacity crowd in attendance for the games, soccer fans will be very interested in the local club.
In addition to marketing the club on television, visitors may be able to see Orlando City close up. Most would expect MLS to take a break during the prestigious tournament as the host country, but that hasn't stopped MLS before. Every two years, the United States hosts CONCACAF's annual Gold Cup, but MLS usually plays through the tournament, despite many of the league's key players taking part.
If MLS plays through Copa America, many visiting fans taking in their home nations at the Citrus Bowl may travel the mile down Church Street to see the Lions play in their new soccer-specific stadium.
Hundreds of millions of fans watching around the world seeing the club's branding, an increase in Orlando City awareness around the globe, and potential additional tickets purchased for home games would all go a long way toward assisting the club's ambition of expanding its brand globally.