With Orlando City's unveiling of the latest plans for their own soccer specific stadium on Friday, the City Beautiful appears set to be the next city equipped with a state-of-the-art venue in Major League Soccer. While the OCSC front office deserves huge credit for sidestepping roadblocks in their quest to get the stadium built, they have also received inspiration for their new ground from teams around MLS since joining the league this season.
Following Friday's press conference, in which City's plans for the 25,500-seat stadium were explained, Lions owner Flávio Augusto da Silva told reporters that the franchise was influenced by several other soccer specific MLS venues that it had visited in 2015.
"We liked a lot," Flávio said when asked about stadiums around the league. "The Kansas City stadium, the Houston stadium. We also got many inspirations from the stadium in San Jose we played in, for the technology. The technology, for us, was a very important thing because it can offer a very good [experience] for our fans."
That stadium in San Jose that da Silva referred to was the brand new Levi's Stadium, which is home of the NFL's San Francisco 49ers. Levi's Stadium is only about seven miles away from the San Jose Earthquakes' very own brand new park, Avaya Stadium.
Both of these venues, as products of the Silicon Valley, are on the cutting edge of technology and provide an unprecedented fan experience. Sporting Park in Kansas City and BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, which were opened in 2011 and 2013, respectively, used soccer specific stadium designs to supply optimal viewing angles from anywhere in the stands and combined that with high definition video boards and reliable Wi-Fi and cell service for fans.
Stadiums like Levi's and Avaya have taken those amenities to new levels, as Avaya is now MLS's first cloud-enabled stadium. Both Avaya and Levi's have apps that fans can use for a variety of things, such as directions and finding their seats once inside the stadium.
These technological innovations clearly made an impression on Flávio and OCSC, which will incorporate aspects of all of these parks, while having a larger capacity than any of their MLS brethren in San Jose, Kansas City or Houston.
The club announced Friday that its new stadium, which has an estimated construction period of 12 to 14 months, will feature reliable wireless internet for fans as well as ways for fans to order food and drinks from their smart phones to cut down wait times. These types of services are a big draw for sports fans who are becoming further immersed in technology every year, and the examples set by the stadiums mentioned above have helped guarantee that Orlando City fans will get a top-notch experience when the new venue opens late next season.
While the Citrus Bowl is a very suitable temporary home for OCSC, outside of the sellout season debut, the stadium can feel a bit too voluminous at times, even with the club drawing in excess of 30,000 fans for most of its home matches. The new venue will have a more intimate feel along with canopy roofs on all sides to reverberate noise and enhance the game atmosphere even despite the 25,500 cap on attendance.
While it has felt like a long and winding process, Orlando City's new stadium plans are finally concrete, and the timing of the stadium build, combined with inspiration from other cutting-edge venues, ensures that the Lions will have an ultramodern home.