We've known for some time that Orlando would push to become one of the host cities of 2016's Copa America Centenario tournament. That push officially got underway today.
Orlando City SC, the Central Florida Sports Commission and the City of Orlando have partnered in the effort to bring the Latin American championship to the Orlando Citrus Bowl, and to Central Florida, for the first time in its history. It's yet another step in trying to make Orlando the "soccer capital of the south," following the March 18 announcement that Mexico and Costa Rica will play an international friendly at the Citrus Bowl in the run-up to the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
The 2016 Copa America Centenario will mark the first time the tournament has been held outside of South America. It will feature six teams from CONCACAF and all 10 teams from CONMEBOL: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.
From CONCACAF, host USA and Mexico are automatic qualifiers, while Costa Rica (2014 Copa Centroamericana winner) and Jamaica (2014 Caribbean Cup winner) qualified this fall. The final two teams will be determined via a playoff to be held among the top four finishers at the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup not already qualified for the Copa America Centenario.
"We are confident that our bid for the Copa America Centenario USA 2016 will be successful, and that we will once again deliver an event of great magnitude, with its extensive economic benefits, to the Central Florida region," Orlando City Founder and President Phil Rawlins said in a press release.
John Bisignano, President/CEO of the Central Florida Sports Commission said landing the tournament would bring a benefit to the region of more than 45,000 hotel room nights and an estimated $34-51 million in economic impact.
"We believe our bid tells a story that the number one tourist destination in the world is ready for this event and is dedicated to growing the beautiful game in the City Beautiful," Bisignano said.
"Orlando represents the marriage of the world's leading tourist destination with the world's most popular sport, making the Orlando Citrus Bowl the ideal location for the Copa America Centenario 2016," said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.
Bid Ambassadors and Orlando City Youth Players Gorka Aperribay (U-18 Academy) and Natalie Michele Fouque (U-18 ENCL). Their entire trip can be followed online on Twitter and using the hashtag #ORLCopa2016.