With Orlando City Soccer Club’s season kick-off just weeks away, Orlando has officially come down with soccer fever. The Lions, which are now part of Major League Soccer, have masterfully stirred up a flurry of excitement leading up to the March 8th season opener when soccer superstar Kaká, newly named team captain, hopes to lead the team to victory. If you’ve been sitting on the soccer sidelines, it’s time jump on the bandwagon. Here are some key details to help you become a Lions die-hard.
1. Get Tickets
You can buy tickets at the Citrus Bowl box office or online with single game tickets starting around $26 each. Season tickets in the general admission supporter section are the best value, priced around $400 for 20 games. They increase from there starting with $480 for corner seat season tickets all the way up to Club Level seats, which are $1840/season ticket but include free food and drinks and access to the Club Lounge.
It’s important to note that if you buy season tickets in 2015 you get first right of refusal for the 2016 season in the new stadium, which will only hold about 20,000 spectators. The season runs from March to November, with playoffs scheduled at the end of November through December.
2. Get There
As I’m sure you’ve heard, Orlando City Soccer will have its own stadium for the 2016 season, but for now the team will play at the Citrus Bowl, which underwent a $200-million-dollar renovation that completed late 2014. Located just west of Amway Center, the Citrus Bowl has around 65,000 seats, all of which could be filled for the soccer club’s #FillTheBowl season opener on Sunday, March 8.
You can park downtown and take a pedi-cab over but there is a ton of parking capacity at the Citrus Bowl and it costs only around $10 per car. This is definitely the most convenient option, especially if you don’t mind the traffic jam when the match ends.
Supporter groups start partying several hours before kick-off and with their drums and flags, they are easy to find. All are welcome at these tailgate fetes hosted by Orlando City Soccer’s two official supporter groups: Iron Lion Firm and The Ruckus. These groups have websites, Twitter accounts and Facebook pages where you can get more details about the pre-party plans as well as learn the chants.
5. Seat Selection
There isn’t a bad seat in the house inside the Citrus Bowl, but if you’re buying tickets for your family you probably won’t want to sit in a supporter section (south end of the stadium behind the goal – also the cheapest tickets). You’ll want to be in a family friendly zone (mid-field level). But if you’re up for a raucous party with lots of noise, singing and drinking, definitely snag general admission seats in the Supporter Zone.
The Citrus Bowl has scores of concessions stands, beer tents, and seat service hot dogs, pizza and burgers. Translation: you won’t go hungry at an Orlando City Soccer game.
7. Be a First-Rate Fan
For starters, wear purple or buy some team duds here. If you’re planning on sitting with the supporter groups, check out the team chants listed in their website. You can learn them ahead of time but groups often pass the songs out on a card so you can sing along during the match.
8. Names to Know
If you’re a casual fan or new to soccer, you might not knowKaká, but he is a HUGE DEAL in the world of soccer. A World Cup winner from Brazil, Kaka has more Facebook fans than LeBron James and is the most the most expensive player in Major League Soccer.
Other names to know are defender Aurélien Collin (named a 2013 MLS All-Star), goal keeper Earl Edwards, Jr (goalkeeper for the US in the 2009 World Cup) and mid-fielder Brek Shea, who also played for the US National Team.
9. Join in the Festivities for Kick-Off Week
There are a ton of fun events scheduled to usher in the new season and to boost enthusiasm for our hometown team. Here are a few to check out:
Soccer and the City
Tuesday, March 3, 6pm
Church Street Exchange
A fun filled evening of cocktails, light bites and fashion, this event will showcase soccer gear and runway fashions modeled by players.
Purple Pride 5K
Thursday, March 5, 6pm
Race starts on Eola Drive at the SE corner of the park
Proceeds to fund youth soccer scholarships. 18+
$30 (before 2/28) After 3/1 all tickets: $35
Each race ticket includes entry into the Purple Pride Fan Zone, a commemorative Purple Pride 5K t-shirt and a ticket voucher for the inaugural game on Sunday, March 8.
Soccer Under the Stars
Friday, March 6, 6:30pm
Lake Eola Amphitheater
This is a free event, will feature food trucks, popcorn and games in the heart of downtown Orlando.
More details at www.orlandocitysc.com/ockickoff
Major League Soccer has grown in leaps and bounds in the past three years, and now averages more fans than the NBA. In fact, soccer is the most played sport in the world. All eyes are on Orlando City Soccer to make the play-offs this year and secure an ever-growing fan base of loyal Orlando locals. Go Lions!!