The self-proclaimed “Soccer Capital of the South”, Orlando City SC, has just hit 11,000 season ticket holders. Per Orlando City SC’s website, section 132 of the Orlando Citrus Bowl has completely sold out, while several sections including the Club and Midfield East are nearing sellout capacity.
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Just last week the club announced that former Major League Baseball player, Ken Griffey Jr. was the clubs 10,000 season ticket holder. Orlando City Founder and President Phil Rawlins had this to say last week:
"“We’re delighted to have surpassed 10,000 season tickets. To have this many season tickets sold with over a month before our first match is a true credit to our fans, and displays why Orlando is the ‘Soccer Capital of the South.’ We’re also very pleased to welcome Ken Griffey Jr. to the Orlando City family. He’s been an influential sports figure for several decades, and we’re thrilled that he’s decided to become a supporter of Orlando City and MLS.”"
In regards to reaching 11,000 season tickets, Rawlins had this to say:
"“The rapid increase in sales shows the growing demand of our passionate fans as the home opener rapidly approaches. To be only a few thousand tickets from our goal several weeks before the start of the season further validates why Orlando is the ‘Soccer Capital of the South.’ We look forward to celebrating our march toward March 8th with our fans and can’t wait to hear the roar of the stadium when the first whistle blows and we make history for the City Beautiful.”"
In all honesty, it is not that hard to become the “Soccer Capital of the South” when you are the only MLS club that plays in the South. Prior to OCSC coming to MLS, they spent three years in the USL-Pro division. Orlando City SC didn’t even exist prior to the 2011 USL-Pro season. In October of 2010, the Orlando Pro Soccer USL rights were purchased by Rawlins, a board member of English Premier League Club Stoke City. The team was announced on October 25, 2010.
I will not discredit the success that the club has had in their short history. In their four years as an USL-Pro club, Orlando City won two championships and one of the main reasons they reached MLS so quickly.
Nov 19, 2013; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando City SC head coach Adrian Heath cheers during a rally for a Major League Soccer official announcement for a expansion franchise agreement with Orlando City Soccer at Cheyenne Saloon. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports
Try not to get ahead of yourselves Orlando City fans, you have built a good team so far, but have yet to prove anything on the field. You have a long way to go in terms of season ticket holders. Look at fan bases like Seattle and Portland. Seattle has a huge season ticket holders list due to the size of the stadium they play in. Portland has a huge waiting list that quite frankly, some people will never get season ticket because of how die-hard they are when it comes to the Timbers.
I know for the 2015 season you will play this season at the 65,000-seat Orlando Citrus Bowl and in 2016 you will be playing in a soccer-specific stadium. This is most likely why the numbers are so low. You don’t want to sell more tickets than you have available. If you are so die-hard, why haven’t you bought more tickets? It took you all this time to hit 10,000 and 11,000 season ticket holders. The other expansion club, New York City FC, surpassed 10,000 months ago. What gives?
All the joking aside, it’s a good sign that expansion clubs are selling this many season tickets. Other clubs in MLS struggle and this is a very good sign for the future of soccer in America.
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