Last year, its first in MLS, Orlando City exploded onto the scene with over 62,000 people filling the Citrus Bowl. They would go on to average over 30,000 a game through the regular season and the rabid support for the young club continues. To this day, there are Orlando City magnets on vehicles on virtually every street in Central Florida.
But a potentially more interesting question than how this young club got so big in an area that has historically struggled to support major league sports teams is why are people behind the team so much? Why is it that people are going to games in such large numbers each week?
Recently Orlando City announced its intention to sell out of the Citrus Bowl again for its March 6 opener against Real Salt Lake. With that in mind, and with the 2016 MLS season quickly approaching, we've decided to take a look at the different reasons that people attend Orlando City games.
More than anything else, the club seems to hype up the atmosphere at games. This is something that's become commonplace over the past few years in what has become known as MLS 3.0. Rather than focusing on players, the league has used the fans in the stands to promote the league.
Undoubtedly, there is a large portion of fans who attend games specifically for that atmosphere. They may enjoy the sport and know a decent amount about it, but there is still a large portion of fans who attend games specifically to experience that atmosphere as opposed to being there for the product on the field.
This type of fan generally ends up in the supporters' section, where the view of the game is not nearly as important as having a drink, singing, and being rambunctious for 90 minutes.
Pure Love of the Game
The next group is the true fan of the sport. These are the people who watched soccer long before Orlando City came into existence and the older section of this group before MLS came into existence. For them, the amount of people at the game is irrelevant to their enjoyment. Their reason for being there is only for the game on the field. If they were in an empty stadium where it was just them and the players, they'd enjoy it just as much as if there were 90,000 fans making ear-splitting noise.
Due to the fact that these fans are there specifically for the game and nothing else, they are more likely to be sitting closer to midfield where the view is better (provided finances allow them to). They'll get as much excitement out of seeing a great run or a beautiful through ball as they do seeing goals.
The final group is the people there for the event. Whenever there's a big event in a city, it's bound to attract a large portion who just want to be able to say they were there. Certainly they'll have fun with friends while attending the game, but the sport and the team are not as important as the fact that the game has been well publicized and many other people they know are going.
None of these groups mentioned are more important than any others. If any of these three groups, or even only two of these groups, attended games without the others, Orlando City's attendance and success would be much lesser than it is. However, it's interesting to see how the different groups mix to form what has become a very special and successful club.
So what group are you in? What makes you attend Orlando City games? Or are you in a different group not mentioned? Let us know in the comment section.