As we count down to the new year of 2017 – which will be Orlando City SC's third in MLS and second in the NWSL – and say goodbye to 2016, it's time to look back at the club's 10 best moments of the year.
It was Thursday, Nov. 3 and Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber did something he rarely does during a typical work day – he put on a hard hat. Garber was in the City Beautiful to tour Orlando City’s new soccer stadium. It wasn’t an ordinary day in the building’s construction. That was the day seat installation began.
Just like the recent installation of the stadium’s grass playing surface, the start of putting actual seats into the venue was a milestone. It’s what finally gave the new downtown edifice the look and feel of a soccer stadium, rather than a giant erector set. And it was glorious, as the commissioner noted to OrlandoCitySC.com.
“It’s just breathtaking, really fabulous,” Garber said. “You know, we dream about building a new foundation for the sport of soccer and for MLS, and when I come to cities and see these buildings going up it delivers on everything that we hope for. And they over-delivered on it here. Just took an hour long tour and it was absolutely fantastic, really special.”
After two seasons at the Citrus Bowl / Camping World Stadium, the club will have a new downtown home for all three of its teams. Orlando City in MLS, Orlando Pride in the NWSL, and Orlando City B in the USL will all relocate from their old host sites into the new yet-to-be-named soccer palace in Parramore. That seat installation in November was the day a big pile of steel turned into a proper stadium and the moment was big enough to draw the Soccer Don out of his office and into protective headgear.
The purple seats, augmented by yellow ones which spell out “Orlando” down the length of the building, finally gave the growing structure character, which is only enhanced with the addition of the sod for the pitch, giant lion logo on the outside, and further flourishes to come.
The seat installation also offered up the club an opportunity to honor its commitment to the victims of the June 18 Pulse nightclub shootings. Orlando City followed through in emphatic fashion, with a special seating section in a rainbow pattern to commemorate those who tragically had their lives cut short in a moment that still resonates throughout our community.
When Orlando City fans take their seats – except those in the safe standing supporters section, that is – on March 5, they can look back to that Thursday in early November when Garber looked on as crews began bolting those seats into the stadium.
Come back every day through New Year's Eve to count down the remainder of Orlando City's top 10 moments of 2016.
Check out the rest of our top 10 Orlando City moments of 2016:
9. Orlando City signs Antonio Nocerino and Julio Baptista.