With the opening of Orlando City's new stadium in 2017, the Lions will have an elegant home built for and owned by the club. The new 25,500-seat stadium located in downtown Orlando will be home to Orlando City of MLS and the Orlando Pride of the NWSL. But there is one other team that could play there, although a decision has yet to be announced.
When Orlando City launched its reserve team, Orlando City B, which plays in the United Soccer League (USL), the club decided to put the team in Melbourne at Eastern Florida State College. This move had several advantages for the new team. Placing the team in Brevard County, home of over 550,000 residents, gave the club the opportunity to expand its brand to the east coast of the state. The lower capacity of the stadium would make the stadium fuller for a team that would no doubt have a lower attendance, seeing as it's a reserve team. And playing at the school rather than the Citrus Bowl allowed the club to pay lower rent for the field and allowed the club’s young, up-and-coming players to play on natural grass rather than the field turf that graces the Citrus Bowl's playing surface.
With the new stadium being owned by the club and with attendances in Melbourne being deemed disappointing, despite the fact that they were around the average for an MLS reserve team, many have speculated that the club would move the team to the new stadium for the 2017 season.
The Mane Land spoke with USL President Jake Edwards recently and the league boss hinted that the league may be in favor of the team moving into the new stadium for the 2017 season. The thought process from the league is that attendances might be higher if the team plays in a more populated area. It has also been speculated that, as the senior team will be expected to sell out every game based on past attendance figures, those in the Orlando area that are unable to acquire tickets for the MLS side may attend USL games instead.
While there may be positives to OCB making the move west to Orlando, there are also some negatives of placing them in the new stadium. The Lions and Pride will most definitely be occupying the new stadium. Having OCB join them would be putting three teams in the same stadium. Not only would this potentially create scheduling issues, but having three teams play their home games on one field would put a tremendous amount of wear and tear on the field. Not even the best groundskeepers in sports would be able to keep the field in pristine condition with three teams playing on it.
As Orlando City's new stadium nears completion, it's unclear exactly how many teams will call the new stadium home. We know that the Lions and Pride will be occupying the new stadium, but there may be a third team that joins them. So, what do you think? Should OCB stay in Melbourne or move into the new stadium? Or is there another place they should play in 2017? Let us know your opinion in the comments below.