This afternoon, figures from Central Florida and around the world met to discuss the Copa America Centenario and Orlando's place in the soccer hierarchy of the United States.
Kicking things off was Gabe Gabor, the communications officer of Copa America in Florida, with his opening remarks where he touched on Orlando City Soccer Club, the U.S. women's national team having played friendlies in Camping World Stadium, and the upcoming friendly between Mexico and Costa Rica.
Next was Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer who spoke about how these three matches being played in Orlando are the most important matches in the city since the 1994 World Cup. Mayor Dyer also spoke on how the matches would effect Orlando and the influx of tourism and business to which Orlando is already accustomed.
Following Mayor Dyer was Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs who encouraged residents to get involved and embrace the tournament as it comes into the Orlando area. Mayor Jacobs also spoke about the unique opportunities Orlando has and how it draws people from around the world to make Orlando the best tourism destination in the country.
The third speaker during the press conference was Mike Millay from Central Florida Sports Commission who spoke about the commission's efforts to help the economy of Orlando by attracting world class events and building state-of-the-art venues that attract these events and how the community's climate and support has allowed the sport of soccer to thrive in Orlando.
Up next was Orlando City Soccer Club Founder and President Phil Rawlins. Rawlins made very clear how proud he was of the fans and how Orlando was the destination for soccer in the south. Between attendance records in NWSL and filling Camping World Stadium for the opening game of each of the last two MLS seasons, Orlando has proven itself to the world and how if the 2026 World Cup were to come to the United States, he expects Orlando to be in the mix for hosting considerations. He also spoke about how being one of the 10 host cities for the Copa America would solidify Orlando's bid, should Orlando show it's usual support.
Following the president was Orlando City forward Júlio Baptista who spoke in Spanish for his portion, but covered how it felt winning the tournament twice and how important it was for him to be representing Orlando in Copa America. Baptista reiterated how Orlando's amenities sets itself apart among other cities that want to host large global tournaments such as this one.
Finally, former Lion and Haitian national team co-captain Jean-Marc Alexander wrapped up the proceedings talking about how anxious he is to play in the tournament and return to Orlando to play against Brazil. Alexander wrapped up by saying that the U.S. and Orlando in particular are ready to host a World Cup and that the Copa America will help prove this.
The Copa America matches taking place in Orlando are Costa Rica vs. Paraguay on June 4th (5pm), Panama vs. Bolivia on June 6th (7pm), and Brazil vs. Haiti on June 8th (7:30pm). The tournament is estimated to have a $30 million impact on Orlando as it's the only hosting city in the south with the two nearest host cities being Philadelphia and Houston.