Major League Soccer (MLS) has awarded Orlando an expansion franchise to begin its inaugural season in 2015.
The Orlando City Soccer Club, which currently competes in the third-tier USL (United Soccer Leagues) Pro league under the Orlando City Lions name, attracts an average of about 9,000 fans to its games at the 65,000-seat Citrus Bowl.
Last month, city and county officials approved funding for an 18,000-seat, $81-million stadium in downtown Orlando. Meanwhile, MLS commissioner Don Garber said he expects Orlando City to pay the same $70 million franchise expansion fee that recent previous MLS additions have paid.
Garber said: “From the success of the Orlando City Soccer Club, to the incredible fan support and passion in the community, this is a new market that really excites us. We have great confidence in Flavio Augusto da Silva, Phil Rawlins and the rest of the Orlando City ownership group.
“They love this sport, our League and this city. And thanks to the commitment of ownership, the City of Orlando and Orange County, Orlando City will soon have a spectacular new stadium that will provide fans and the entire community with a truly unique downtown sporting experience.” [Source: Sport Business]