The city of Orlando is known for many things. It’s home to some of the most visited theme parks in the world, home of the Orlando Magic, and of course it’s where our beloved Lions take the pitch at Exploria Stadium. But just over the line lies Osceola County. Osceola county was (once) known for it’s rolling farmlands and cows. Mostly cows.
Take a drive through any part of Osceola if you haven’t in a while, and I doubt you’d recognize it. I mean, it’s hard to see where Narcoosee Road blends from Osceola to Orange county. Today the Orlando City Soccer Club cut the ribbon on the team’s new training facility in Kissimmee, the very center of Osceola.
Here’s why the new location could be instrumental in growing the fan base. It’s no secret that OCSC has the most passionate fans in the league, but bodies in seats are good for everyone.
Sure, the climbing numbers in Osceola don’t quite touch the 1.3 million residents in Orange County, but the population estimate according to the census for July of 2018 was 367,990. That’s a number that grows every day. You don’t have to read the numbers to see the growth. You can see it in the added commute time because of the added traffic on the roads, in the housing developments that can’t go up fast enough, and in our overcrowded schools that must make room for more students every day. Being more visible to the community has the potential to draw in more people.
Directly across the street on Bill Beck Boulevard, sits Johnson University. College students are always in need of something fun to do, and seeing the new sign every single day could inspire a group to take advantage of the $25 ticket pricing for the 25 years of MLS celebration. Maybe that group has the best time and for the next four years of their college experience they decide to be season ticket members. Is it reaching? Maybe, but visibility alone will draw some people in. At the very least they might be tempted to catch an OCB game since the Young Lions will be nearby and more affordably priced.
Osceola County Schools
Located right next to Johnson University and across the street from the new facility lies the School District of Osceola County’s central office, home to all the top leaders in the district. Except for the mini-pitch at Neptune Middle School, the generous donation of Pride tickets to reward a group of readers at East Lake Elementary School, and an almost, “Principal for the Day,” experience, there’s been little interaction between the club and Osceola County schools, which made sense before. The club is about 40 minutes from the new facility so until now, residents haven’t seen much purple.
You know what residents of Osceola County support? Business partners. When a business partners with the school district, or even individual schools, it comes with marketing opportunities. Those opportunities are typically seen by most families with students ranging from pre-K to 12th grade, be it on flyers, promotional materials, websites, or banners hanging from fencing. When making decisions on what businesses to support, families will often turn back to the companies supporting their children. This is a great opportunity for both OCSC and Osceola County Schools to make a great impact on another community in need.
While the potential for exposure is increased, access will still be an issue for many families. Fair ticket pricing won’t be an issue with the $25 ticket opportunities that are coming for the first five home matches, but the cost and time to get there can be burdensome, and make the difference in families deciding to attend or not. With SunRail stops in Kissimmee and Poinciana, it would be ideal for the club to partner with SunRail the way the Metro partners with Atlanta United. Fans pack those trains on game day and, in turn, can spend more on concessions, which are also priced fairly.
I’m not a marketing expert, and won’t pretend to be, but it seems to me, that increased exposure can’t hurt in getting bodies in seats. It’s also exciting to know that our littlest learners will have giants in their backyards, even if only for training.