Exploria Stadium is a soccer-specific stadium in downtown Orlando, Florida. It is the home of Orlando City SC, which entered Major League Soccer as an expansion franchise in 2015, and their National Women’s Soccer League affiliate club, the Orlando Pride. The stadium was completed in time for Orlando City’s home opener of the 2017 season on March 5 and it became the first ever venue to permanently host MLS, NWSL, and USL teams all in the same location that year.
As well as home matches for Orlando City, Orlando Pride, the stadium has also been used as a host venue for both the United States men’s and women’s national teams, the finals for both the NWSL Championship and NCAA Women’s College Cup, numerous Florida Cup games, the MLS Combine in 2018 and 2019, and the 2019 MLS All-Star Game.
Exploria Stadium History
In April 2013, the City of Orlando purchased downtown land for $8.2 million to be used towards the construction of a $110 million MLS soccer stadium. However, in May, the Florida House of Representatives failed to vote on a bill that had passed the Senate that would have provided up to $30 million in state funds towards the stadium project.
The Orlando downtown soccer stadium moved closer to securing funding on August 8, 2013, when Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer reached an agreement on a deal to provide financial support for a variety of Orlando projects including the new MLS soccer stadium.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association announced on December 11, 2013, that the 2016 and 2017 NCAA Women’s College Soccer Championship would be held at the new stadium. On August 4, 2014, the team announced that the stadium location would be moved one block west, to avoid having a delay to the opening day, due to Faith Deliverance Temple fighting the city’s eminent-domain claim.
Exploria Stadium Financing
Orlando City SC’s owners announced on May 29, 2015, that the stadium would be privately funded by Orlando City SC and not the city. They also announced they would upgrade the stadium’s capacity from 19,000 seats, to somewhere between 25,000 and 28,000 seats. The new plan was unveiled on July 31, increasing capacity to 25,500 by adding seats to the south end to maximize seats without major design changes that would set back the project by an additional year.
More foreign investors looking to obtain green cards through the EB-5 program are joining this project, which has already created around 1000 jobs and is expected to create around 1000 more in an area that much needed its economic growth. This project is still open and more information can be obtained by contacting the American Regional Center Group.
Exploria Stadium Design
The team released artistic renderings of the stadium on December 11, 2012. On September 30, 2013, the architectural firm Woods Bagot released their drawings of the stadium on their website. The team announced that these drawings were released without their knowledge or input, and that they had not selected an architect yet. Woods Bagot proceed to remove the images from their website. The design phase began on January 7, 2014, when Mayor Buddy Dyer and some of the Orlando City SC staff traveled to Kansas City to begin working with the design firm Populous.
Heineken announced a partnership with multiple MLS teams on November 12, 2014, including Orlando City, making Heineken the official beer of the team as well as giving Heineken naming rights to the ground level bar on the south side of the stadium. In addition to the announcement, a new rendering of the south side from inside the stadium was released.