Orlando City will play its entire 2016 season in the Citrus Bowl and will not open its new downtown soccer stadium until 2017, the club announced today.
As construction continues on the new Orlando City stadium, construction delays have prompted club Founder and President Phil Rawlins to give an update in a press release sent out this morning and also posted online on the OCSC website.
"We continue to make progress on our new Downtown Stadium, and we expect to begin steel installation -- a major construction milestone -- later this month. At that time, we will also launch our 3D seat viewer, which will allow fans to get a first glimpse inside the stadium from their new seats.
"Unfortunately, stadium construction is taking a little longer than anticipated. Therefore, in order to provide enough time, we have taken the prudent decision to play the entire 2016 season in the Orlando Citrus Bowl, and concentrate our construction efforts on being fully prepared for opening in 2017.
"This will allow us to provide fans, community neighbors, partners, and competitors a first class experience from the very first day."
When unveiling the plans for the new stadium in July, Rawlins anticipated moving into the stadium near the end of the 2016 regular season, in time for the MLS playoffs. This pushes that target date back four to six months, to the spring of 2017.
Originally breaking ground in October 2014 (#WeDigPurple, anybody?), funding for the stadium was taken private in May, relieving local taxpayers from footing the bill while expanding capacity to 25,500.
The 2016 season will be played in its entirety in the Orlando Citrus Bowl, the 60,219 seat stadium that played host to the Lions for the 2015 season. Orlando City averaged 36,911 per game in the building for its first season.
The delay will also affect the Women's College Cup, which, according to the Orlando Sentinel's Jeff Weiner, will now be hosted in Orlando in 2017 instead of 2016.
Per city official, Orlando will still host the 2017 edition of that event, which is the final four of the Div. I women’s soccer tournament.— Jeff Weiner (@JeffWeinerOS) January 13, 2016
More: Due to soccer stadium construction delay, NCAA is expected to announce Orlando will no longer host 2016 Women’s College Cup.— Jeff Weiner (@JeffWeinerOS) January 13, 2016
Not even two weeks into 2016, and we've already busted one of Gavin Ewbank's Bold Predictions. Let's hope that's the only one that doesn't come to fruition.