Orlando City SC announced on Monday that the club, city of Orlando, and the Central Florida Sports Commission have partnered to bring the Copa America Centenario USA 2016 to the city. Earlier this year, tournament organizers announced 24 metropolitan areas were interested in hosting the historic Copa America. This is the first time it has been held outside of South America.
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The MLS Expansion side has preformed well through four weeks in their inaugural season with Pedro Riberio and Kaka impressing early on. Likewise, the fans have flocked to the Citrus Bowl to show their support and has many wondering if the team needs to change plans for their new soccer specific stadium to increase capacity. Currently, that is capped around 20k, but their home games have averaged above that so far. The Citrus Bowl will host other premier events and it appears to be a stadium that can regularly host those type of events. Monday’s bid to host part of the Copa America Centenario USA 2016 is not surprising and shows Orlando’s dedication towards becoming a soccer town.
"“Over the past several months we have seen firsthand the significant impact premier soccer can have on our city and region,” said Orlando City Founder and President Phil Rawlins. “Between the unforgettable kickoff to our 2015 MLS season with over 62,500 screaming fans, to the Florida Cup, the Canadian Men’s National Team training at Lake Sylvan, and the recent announcement of the major international exhibition between Mexico and Costa Rica on June 27 – we are proving to the world that Orlando is the home for world class soccer.We are confident that our bid for the Copa America Centenario USA 2016 will be successful, and that we will once again deliver an event of great magnitude, with its extensive economic benefits, to the Central Florida region. I’d like to thank all of our partners in this process as well as the U.S. Soccer Federation for their consideration of the City Beautiful as a venue for this historic championship.”"
Orlando City Mayor Buddy Dyer offered his support for the hosting bid.
"“We are confident that our bid for the Copa America Centenario USA 2016 will be successful, and that we will once again deliver an event of great magnitude, with its extensive economic benefits, to the Central Florida region. I’d like to thank all of our partners in this process as well as the U.S. Soccer Federation for their consideration of the City Beautiful as a venue for this historic championship.”"
Events like this are good for the local economy and businesses near the venue. Teams stay in hotels, fans eat at nearby restaurants and it helps the city become a place that can host other premier events in the years to come.
"“Between a sellout crowd at Orlando City’s opening match and our recent announcement to host Mexico and Costa Rica’s national teams later this year, Orlando is quickly proving its merits as the Soccer Capital of the South,” said John Bisignano, President/CEO of the Central Florida Sports Commission. “We believe our bid tells a story that the #1 tourist destination in the world is ready for this event and is dedicated to growing the beautiful game in the City Beautiful. The entire Central Florida region would benefit from the vast media coverage, more than 45,000 room nights and estimated $34-51 million in economic impact the Copa America Centenario and its thousands of international and domestic visitors would provide.”"
For now, we will have to wait and see what happens and what other cities officially put in a bid for the historic tournament. If I was making the choice, Orlando would be one of the cities showcased and named as one of the hosts.