Orlando City Soccer Club, a team that will join Major League Soccer in 2015, unveiled renderings for a new downtown stadium on Tuesday.

According to the team's website, the Populous-designed stadium will have about 19,500 seats and is scheduled to open prior to the 2016 MLS season.

"This is yet another great step in our journey to Major League Soccer," said Orlando City president Phil Rawlins. "We are developing a venue that will make soccer fans proud."

Orlando City currently plays in USL Pro, the third tier of the American soccer pyramid. The team will join the MLS next year along with New York City FC, which will play its home games at Yankee Stadium until it finds a permanent home. Atlanta is scheduled for an expansion franchise in 2017 and will play its home games in the Falcons new stadium, while Miami has been awarded an expansion franchise, but the year it will join the league is yet to be determined. Miami has not yet been awarded a stadium.


Among the features for Orlando City's stadium will be a 360-degree lower bowl built below ground level and a distinct canopy that will cover all seats to the front row on three sides, protecting fans from sun and rain and also amplifying crowd noise. The stadium will also feature luxury amenities such as a midfield club lounge and 38 luxury suites. The playing surface will be natural grass.

Funding for the stadium has already been secured from the Club, State of Florida, City of Orlando, Orange County, Seminole County and Osceola County. The stadium will be owned and operated by the City of Orlando (via Orlando Venues, the same entity that owns and operates the Amway Center and Orlando Citrus Bowl).

During the construction of the new downtown stadium, Orlando City will play its entire inaugural MLS season in 2015 at the Orlando Citrus Bowl, which is currently undergoing over $200 million in renovations.

 

Michael Gaio is eMedia Editor of Athletic Business.