Phil Rawlins targets Orlando City stadium to be completed by holiday season

Orlando City’s downtown soccer-specific stadium is moving on up.

After Monday morning’s stadium-construction ceremony, club founder and president Phil Rawlins told reporters the proposed 25,500-seat stadium is on track for a 2017 opening.

“We’ve always said that we hope to have the stadium open for the very first game of the 2017 season. That’s still our plan,”Rawlins said. “We expect that to be around Christmas time. We hope to have a couple months before we actually have that [first] game in March to have everything in place.”

Phil Rawlins 2

Orlando City SC founder and president Phil Rawlins addresses the audience in attendance of the stadium-construction ceremony at the new soccer-specific stadium grounds on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. (Mike Gramajo / Orlando Soccer Journal)

With Orlando City planning to have its venue completed around the holidays, that will leave the months December through March as a transition period where the club will relocate some of its office and personnel to the stadium.

Rawlins did add that the club doesn’t have any stadium delays planned, but acknowledged the possibility of that happening, as it can happen to any construction job.

The team’s stadium currently does not have a sponsor name, but Rawlins said the club is looking at various candidates. Those candidates range from local level to national level.

Orlando City will play at the Orlando Citrus Bowl during the 2016 MLS season before moving to its $155 million stadium for the 2017 season.

On the team’s pursuit of pursuit of filling the Citrus Bowl again, Rawlins announced the team has already sold over 48,000 tickets ahead of Sunday’s opener against Real Salt Lake. 

The club also has a $20 million training facility being built at Lake Nona, and the possibility of having the training complex opened at the same time with the stadium is very likely, Rawlins added.

“It’s very, very possible,” he said. “Obviously the training complex is a less-sophisticated structure than a 25,000-seat stadium, so it’s certainly possible the two will come in line pretty much the same time, and those are our plans.”

Follow Mike Gramajo on Twitter (@byMikeGramajo). For more, also follow the OSJ on Twitter (@OSJSoccer).

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