ORLANDO, Fla. - The Orlando City Soccer Club released the results of a study on the economic impact of a new stadium and having an Major League Soccer franchise on Tuesday.
Orlando City Soccer Club commissioned CS&L International to prepare a two-phase study to see what the results of building a new 20,000-seat multi-purpose venue, which would be home to a new MLS franchise.
Phil Rawlins, one of the owners of the club, says a state-of-the-art stadium could cost about $90 million. The team would like the project to be funded as part of a public-private partnership.
"It's not that the Citrus Bowl won't be a good stadium. It'll be a great stadium," Rawlins said. "The MLS just won't allow us to play there if we want to be a major league franchise."
In order to get MLS franchise, Orlando City Soccer needs a $95-100 million stadium with 20,000 seats, according to MLS officials. In the report, data showed that similar cities that made the jump to MLS had huge attendance spikes that would fill the stadium in Orlando.
The report found that the closest MLS franchises to Orlando are in Houston and Washington D.C., leaving a huge hole in the southeastern U.S. Officials said other franchises in the southeast, such as Tampa and Miami, failed before MLS grew in popularity.
Rawlins said the Citrus Bowl, which currently hosts Orlando City Soccer games, is not even half full at 70,000 thousand seats and that stadium is too big for the Lions. Orlando City believes it would be more beneficial for the fans to have an intimate game experience.
MLS said it will allow the team to play at the Citrus Bowl in short term but would demand future plans for a soccer-specific stadium. Officials also said the stadium could be used for other events like rugby, lacrosse and concerts but wouldn't compete with existing venues.
"Our next step is to sit down with them and figure out how we can collaborate and work together to make this a reality," Rawlins said.
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