The 2017 MLS season brings an extra element of excitement for Orlando City and its fans. In addition to the anticipation of another league campaign, the Lions — as you may have heard — are opening up a brand new, soccer-specific stadium in downtown Orlando.
Instead of the cavernous Camping World Stadium, Orlando will be packing its intense atmosphere into a beautiful 25,500-seat venue that promises to deliver on everything from noise and home-field advantage to in-stadium Wi-Fi and food and beer selection.
Along with the new stadium, however, comes a new game day experience for the Orlando City fan. Not only does that mean a more intimate, loud experience inside the stadium, but also before and after games in terms of pregame partying, parking, and the like. We’re here to get you briefed on the new home match protocols ahead of Sunday’s season and stadium-opening clash with NYCFC.
One of the benefits of playing at a large multi-purpose (but primarily used for football) venue like Camping World Stadium was the large parking areas outside the stadium. Those lots provided ideal space for tailgating before matches, which won’t be quite the same with the new parking setup featuring six parking garages out of the 10 official parking areas outlined by the club. All of the allotted parking areas lie west of Orange Avenue downtown, providing much more manageable walking distances to the stadium, and also funneling beautifully to the downtown City Pubs, which provide optimal locations to hold pre- and post-match festivities.
These downtown City Pubs are Elixir Bar Room and Hash House on Washington Street, and all the bars at the Wall St. Plaza. As always, these locations will serve discounted Heineken beer on game days, and just in case you aren’t going into the stadium for the match, they’ll also always show the live broadcast of the game for you to enjoy as well.
Wherever you choose to park and enjoy your pregame beverages, be aware that there are some street closures to deal with on game day, which mainly affect Central Blvd. and Church St. This will also affect you after the match, just as a heads up.
Stadium gates open one hour prior to the match, unless otherwise noted by the club. Keep this in mind when planning your pregame festivities so you can take into account walking time to the stadium as well as allowing a few minutes for stadium entry security procedures.
You can find all the stadium mapping you need right here to familiarize yourself with the new digs and where you’ll be sitting, which will also help you determine which of the four main gates — A, B, C, or D — will allow for the quickest trip to your section ahead of first kick.
You won’t have to deal with paper tickets anymore, as the club has set up paperless ticketing that can be easily handled on your smart phone via LionNation or AccountManager. In my personal experience, using my phone to manage tickets has been much more convenient than printing tickets manually, and it’s a nice improvement from the club. Have your ticket ready as you approach the entry line, and be ready for the customary security screening — anyone entering the venue is subject to a search, and the club reserves the right to confiscate items that it deems dangerous or disrupting. Also, as fun as it would be to bring your drone along with you for aerial SnapChat video, hold off on bringing that along with the rest of these prohibited items.
If you’re bringing a bag to the game, be sure to familiarize yourself with the new clear-bag policy that’s being instituted for the 2017 season. The policy is being established to improve efficiency of security screenings entering the stadium and to increase the overall safety at matches. It’d be a shame to pack a large bag only to have it fall short of meeting the clear bag requirements at the gate, so be sure to educate yourself on that policy especially.
Finally, for any questions regarding additional accessibility, click here. The club being the progressive, inclusive, forward-thinking organization that it is, has taken steps to make matches accessible to as many fans as possible.
Not that it needs to be said for most, but be sure to act like a civil human being once you’re at the game. The Orlando City stadium code of conduct can be found in full here, although it’s pretty much down to common sense. Treat others how you’d want to be treated, and there’s no reason everyone shouldn’t enjoy the game experience —even rival fans.
Orlando City has a reputation for great fan support and passion, which will shine through for visitors to see. Hopefully that passion results in the kind of home-field advantage we think it will as the Lions look to qualify for the MLS postseason for the first time in 2017.
For those of you getting set to attend Sunday’s match, Godspeed and go Lions. For any questions regarding any game day-related procedures, check out the club’s official site.