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Eastern Florida among options for new Orlando City team

Orlando City Soccer creating minor league team

Eastern Florida State College could become the home of a United Soccer League team in the near future.
Eastern Florida State College could become the home of a United Soccer League team in the near future. (FLORIDA TODAY / CRAIG BAILEY)

COCOA, Fla. – Eastern Florida State College has said from the beginning that one of the goals with building a state-of-the-art soccer complex was to draw other events.

Local 6 News partner Florida Today says all of the planning and hard work may lead to a professional soccer team calling the complex home. Orlando City Soccer Club announced Tuesday that it will field a United Soccer League team in 2016 and is searching for a place to call home.

That search has brought the club to Brevard County multiple times over the past few months looking at several sites, including Eastern Florida State College's soccer complex.

"We are going through the process of exploring different venues throughout Central Florida. Anything within a 60 to 90 minute drive could be an option for us," Orlando City vice president of development Tim Holt said during halftime of Tuesday night's game. "I think the most important thing is finding an appropriate venue for this team to play. We want something that's intimate for fans. It needs to be big enough to meet the league standards, so you're looking at a 5,000 to 10,000-seat stadium."

It would take some time and work as Eastern Florida would have to add bleachers all around the current field to hold the 5,000 fans that the United Soccer League would like each home stadium to hold. Currently the complex holds 1,500 fans.

But Holt said there is time to figure out the logistics.

"It won't be something where we're making that announcement next week, or even next month, but I would say by early fall, September, October, to make those announcements and get things locked in," Holt said of announcing a home. "The same thing with the branding of the team. There is going to be full integration."

Eastern Florida president Jim Richey is excited about the prospects of bringing pro soccer to Brevard County.

"The Orlando City Soccer Club has made an exciting impact throughout Central Florida. They're a superb organization with outstanding leadership, great players and the best fans in the MLS," said Richey, who recently attended a game at the Citrus Bowl and saw first hand the excitement around the team.

"EFSC has also been a leader in expanding soccer's presence in Brevard and Eastern Florida with our nationally ranked teams and excellent community support, so the possibility that Orlando's USL may locate its home field along the Space Coast would be another huge boost for the sport and our region."

The USL is not new to Brevard County as a team played in Cocoa from 1993 to 2007.