Two years ago, Orlando City Stadium hosted its first United States Men’s National Team game. Entrance into the game left many fans feeling frustrated. Now, it appears those issues have been solved.
In October 2017, the United States hosted Panama in a key World Cup qualifier at Orlando City Stadium. As fans arrived to the venue for the crucial encounter, they were left with mobility problems and long lines. Fans waited for an hour or more at some gates to enter the stadium, causing many to miss kickoff. The struggle caused Orlando City to take action to ensure that the situation never occurred again.
While Orlando City owns the stadium, U.S. Soccer is given control of the venue for national team games. The game two years ago saw internet trouble at the gates and struggles getting mobile phones scanned. In some cases, this resulted in people being allowed to enter without having their tickets scanned. Fans, many of whom were visiting the venue for the first time, were left standing in long lines for up to an hour. It was a problem that needed to be immediately addressed.
One of the issues at the time appeared to be mobile entry. Most Orlando City season ticket holders are issued physical cards that are scanned for entry. Ticket takers contacted for this story say that these cards are much easier to scan than mobile phones. When events occur at the venue other than Orlando City or Orlando Pride games, everyone must enter the stadium with their mobile device, which is what created problems two years ago.
A club spokesman told The Mane Land at the time that they were aware of the situation and were immediately taking steps to avoid the problem in the future. This included enhancing the internet points at the gate and taking further steps to inform fans to have their mobile tickets ready when they arrive at the gate.
By all accounts, Thursday night’s U.S. game against Ecuador featured much easier entrance. While there were still lines, as will happen when you have thousands of people entering a single venue, the lines moved smoothly through the gates, allowing people to get concessions and arrive at their seat before kickoff.
This is a positive for the club and the city as making it easy for people to enter will only help with future events. A common sentiment two years ago from people attending their first game was that they would never attend an event at the stadium again due to the trouble. It also made the club and city appear as though they were unable to handle a decent-sized event like a World Cup qualifier. The U.S. friendly was redemption and proved that the stadium and club can properly handle such events.
As a midweek friendly game against a non-power on the international soccer scene, the game was always going to draw fewer people than the crucial World Cup qualifier two years ago. While the previous game was a sellout of over 25,000 fans, Thursday night’s game had 17,442 in attendance. However, the approximate 8,000 difference shouldn’t make much of an impact in entering the stadium when spanned over a few hours.
Orlando City Stadium is a beautiful soccer-only venue that is a desirable place to host major soccer events. Its ability to solve previous issues could have a positive impact on the future as events may be more likely to depend on the host and non-Orlando City fans in attendance will be more likely to return, having had a satisfactory experience. That’s a good thing for the stadium, the club, and the city.