Orlando City Council approves plan for 18,000-seat soccer stadium for Orlando City SC

The Orlando City Council on Monday approved the construction agreement for the future home of Orlando City SC, giving fans of the 2015 Major League Soccer expansion franchise their first glimpse of the specifics of the planned soccer-specific stadium.

The construction agreement was unanimously approved by local leaders and details the process for building the $84 million stadium, which Orlando City officials expect to open in the summer of 2015. Orlando City will begin the 2015 MLS season at the Citrus Bowl next season.

The City of Orlando will own the stadium, while Orlando City will act as the developer of the facility. The design firm behind the stadium’s development – international sports architecture firm Populous – also designed BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston and Sporting Park in Kansas City, as well as the Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg, the site of the 2010 World Cup final.

According to the plan approved on Monday, there will be roughly 18,000 seats between general admission, club level and suites at the new downtown stadium, although no specifics about a supporters’ section were revealed. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said he expects the supporters to gather at the north end of the stadium and that area will be tailored to the team’s fan groups, meaning more standing room and rails in front of the rows.

The stadium will be 290,000 square feet, including a 102,000-square-foot seating bowl covered by a roof on the east and west sides. The stadium will also include a 4,000-square-foot team store and roughly 2,500 club-level seats, where premium ticket-holders will also have access to a 4,000-square-foot club with a buffet and bar.

There is a chance the stadium could be expanded if local officials are successful in convincing state lawmakers to approve legislation that would make MLS franchises in the state eligible for sales tax rebates. If that occurs, the city could increase the construction budget by $30 million and use the funds to add roughly 1,000 more seats, expand the club level and put a roof over the north end zone.

"We like to do things world class here," Dyer told the media on Monday. "It will be a great stadium whether it's an $85 million stadium or $110 million. But I would really like to see us have the same kind of quality we have at the Amway Center and the performing arts center."