Orlando City held a press conference at the Orlando Citrus Bowl today to formally announce the latest in a series of huge soccer events for Central Florida. Club Founder and President Phil Rawlins announced that the Citrus Bowl will play host to a pre-Gold Cup international match between Mexico and Costa Rica on Saturday, June 27 at 6 p.m.
It will mark the first time Mexico has played in the Citrus Bowl since the 1994 FIFA World Cup and the first major event aside from Orlando City's opener to be held in the venerable venue.
The game, which will be played on real grass put down on top of the Citrus Bowl's artificial surface, will serve as a tune-up prior to CONCACAF Gold Cup play and both teams are expected to field most of their starters for that tournament.
Tickets for the match will go on sale on Ticketmaster on April 15 but exclusive presale opportunities for Orlando City season ticket members will begin on Monday, March 23 at 10 a.m. Season ticket members will receive an exclusive offer via email from the club, allowing fans to purchase their same seat as their season ticket for the Mexico-Costa Rica match.
In addition, a two-pack offer will be available that includes a ticket to the international friendly, as well as Orlando City's game vs. the LA Galaxy. Mexico-Costa Rica will not be one of the three non-MLS games on the season ticket package.
"Today is another landmark day for the community," Rawlins said. "When we came to the city of Orlando in 2011 we promised not only to bring Major League Soccer here, but to bring great sporting events, great soccer events, to this city. And today we deliver on that commitment once again."
Rawlins reminded the assembled media that both Mexico and Costa Rica recently appeared in the FIFA World Cup in Brazil
"Both are very big international teams that we expect to draw a great crowd here to the Citrus Bowl," Rawlins said. "I'm thrilled to announce the game today and delighted to thank our partners who made this possible - obviously Major League Soccer, but also Orlando Venues, Florida Citrus Sports, the Central Florida Sports Commission, the City of Orlando, and Orange County."
"The draw of the Mexican National Team is significant," said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. "There's a reason that they were the inaugural event of the new (Dallas) Cowboys stadium. There's a reason that the Mexican National Team was the inaugural event at the new Met Life Stadium. They are major sporting events and they draw fans. The Mexican National Team averages 50,000 fans when they play in the United States."
The match is the latest in a series of events designed to make Orlando the "Soccer Capital of the South." But it also
"This is such an important economic opportunity," added Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs. "It gives us an opportunity to prove that we can host these types of grand events."
Rawlins also said this match would serve as a chance to show they could host Copa America Centenario matches, for which the club and city have applied.
"We will continue to pursue opportunities like this to bring major events such as Mexico-Costa Rico to this great venue," Rawlins said. "We know that it drives tremendous economic impact...we expect again to have another full house on June 27."
Other notes from today's presser:
- The game will be televised and final details of that are still being worked out.
- Rawlins said the expectation is that a large number of the fans attending will be from out of state. Mayor Jacobs said she expects many to have extended stays in Orlando and take advantage of the theme parks and other local attractions.
- Rawlins noted that the club, city and Citrus Bowl had been working toward this deal for "three or four months."
- The club still has no solid news on the three additional games promised as part of the season ticket package but Rawlins said the club continues to work on those and will announce them when they are finalized.
- Rawlins said that close to 24,000 tickets have been sold for this Saturday's game against Vancouver Whitecaps with the opening of some Plaza Level sections and that the club will continue to monitor the situation and open additional sections if and when it makes sense to do so.
- Mayor Jacobs quipped that it's hard to find clothing in Orlando City's shade of purple so she carries her scarf with her when she goes shopping.