Thousands, of purple-clad Orlando City fans turned out on a beautiful Central Florida October evening to celebrate the groundbreaking of the club’s new stadium.
Club brass, players, the mayors of Orlando and Orange County, and MLS President Mark Abbott were on hand to scoop up the first shovels full of dirt and usher in the next home of the Orlando City Lions.
It was a terrific event, starting with a gathering at Church Steet Station. Fans swarmed the outdoor bars, an Orlando City merchandise trailer, and area restaurants. Members of the Iron Lion Firm and The Ruckus gathered at Harry Buffalo. A DJ dropped some beats. People ate, drank, and were merry.
A jubilant Phil Rawlins, the club’s president, met and posed for photos with fans in the middle of the cordoned-off street. Team owner Flavio Augusto da Silva talked to reporters.
Finally, drums were beat, horns were blown, and the throngs promenaded down Church Street to the corner of Parramore Avenue, and were met by the Jones High School Marching Tiger Band. A long, narrow box, filled with 24 tons of purple sand, waited before a stage. A drone buzzed overhead, recording the event.
Rawlins spoke, followed by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs. Abbott talked, as did da Silva.
“Today marks more than a mere stadium groundbreaking, it marks the beginning of a new era for the community, our fans and our team.” said Rawlins.
Club owner da Silva was passionate about what he referred to as “a global club.”
“We’re going to leave real emotions on this land,” said da Silva
Rawlins echoed da Silva, thanking the fans, profusely and promised them a winner.
“Thank you to everyone who reached out and touched use, and made this possible,” said Rawlins. “We’ll laugh, we’ll cry, but more than anything, we will win on this land.”
With a final flourish, Rawlins said, “Let’s break ground! Let’s build a stadium!”
As the gathered dignitaries scooped out the first shovels full of dirt in unison, confetti flew and fireworks exploded. Orlando City knows how to throw a party.
We’ll have more from the groundbreaking tomorrow, namely a one-on-one interview with Abbott. But for now, enjoy a video and a few photos from what turned out to be an outstanding event.