This past weekend, I had the opportunity to head back to Camping World Stadium for a soccer game for the first time since Orlando City vacated the venue after its 2016 season. This was a special occasion, the International Champions Cup was playing its first game in Orlando as English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur was taking on Ligue 1 power Paris Saint-Germain. An announced attendance of 33,332 was on hand to watch Tottenham beat PSG, 4-2, and almost all of both teams’ stars were on the pitch for at least part of the action.
Stars like PSG’s Edinson Cavani, Javier Pastore, Dani Alves, Angel Di Maria, and Jesé played a lot of the match, with Cavani and Pastore scoring. On the other end, Spurs stars like Hugo Lloris, Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli , Harry Kane, and U.S. international Cameron Carter-Vickers featured for the English side. Eriksen scored a fantastic goal and Kane netted a penalty late in the match.
It was quite an event that was fairly well attended, especially for a preseason match. Many fans had traveled from overseas, wanting to follow their beloved teams on their U.S. tour, while also making a holiday out of it. While out at the game, I spoke to a number of families and media folk that made the journey down and they said they’ve been out to Disney, Universal, and International Drive before they came to the game, taking their kids out for a nice summer holiday.
It’s no secret that Orlando attracts a ton of tourists, with it being one of the top tourist destinations in the world. Not only that, but having a team like Tottenham come to Camping World Stadium meant that a lot of the Brits that often came down to holiday in Florida would get a chance to follow their team in preseason as well. Even a good number of fans came out from Paris to do much of the same with their trip.
These folks are paying for hotel rooms, restaurant meals, souvenirs, and goods and services from all kinds of businesses in Orlando during their stay. They’re visiting attractions beyond the theme parks, such as the Orlando Eye, Gator Land, and local museums.
So, with the success of this year’s game, why not bring it back after the current deal through 2018 expires? Another English team like a Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, or Manchester City would most likely do well with not only the traveling fans from England, but the expats that now call Orlando home, especially with many of them not being able to go to a game back in England, for whatever reason.
Even for just a preseason match, the atmosphere was fantastic and the fans were in full voice for both sides. It was an experience that definitely should come back to the City Beautiful and give local fans a chance to see the best of the world play in their own backyard.