Tuesday June 10th, 2014

Get ready to embrace purple and check out some of the Orlando-specific features of the planned 19,500-capacity Orlando City SC downtown stadium.

Planned to open off Church Street in time for the 2016 Major League Soccer season, the new venue for one of the incoming MLS teams includes a fresh take on a supporters’ section, a fan-gathering plaza and plenty of room to grow in the future.

Stadium designer Populous, the same firm behind Sporting Park and BBVA Compass Stadium (Houston), the newest MLS venues, created a 360-degree lower bowl built below ground with stands springing above those sections on the east, west and north sides. All three of those sections will offer a roof canopy extending to the first row of seats, keeping the weather—sun or rain—off fans and bouncing crowd noise back toward the field.

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The players, though, they can enjoy all the elements Orlando has to offer. On the south end, forget about a roof. A single-deck supporters’ section with standing rails and an open-air pub-style space on top of an elevated concourse, just behind the seating section for use only by supporter section members, creates a new design for supporters-only spaces. Expect that supporter section to tie to a fan plaza on the south end, spilling toward the city’s Church Street Sports & Entertainment Corridor, which includes the Orlando Magic’s Amway Center one block away.

To highlight this area a giant four-foot lion statue—the lion serves as a team symbol—will rotate to face the field during matches and out toward Church Street other times. Of the 38 luxury suites, expect a midfield club lounge with views of the all-grass field and an elevated 360-degree balcony-style bar within the scoreboard structure on the south end. But this may not be all.

The club says it will continue to solicit design ideas from fans and look to include them in the final stadium plan. Plus, Populous has designed underground infrastructure to allow for future expansion via fill-in of the now-open corners. While Orlando City waits for its new $100 million home, the team will open MLS play in 2015 in the Citrus Bowl, now enjoying a $200 million renovation. But come 2016 get ready for purple. Plenty of it.

Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and gear for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.

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