Populous hired to design Orlando City Soccer Stadium

Populous, the designer for such notable soccer stadia as Sporting Park in Kansas City and Wembley Stadium in London, as well as Orlando’s Amway Center, has been hired to design Orlando City Soccer Club’s permanent home from 2015 on.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orlando City Soccer Club president Phil Rawlins are in Kansas City, Kansas, for a stadium design workshop with the firm today and tomorrow according to a report in the Orlando Sentinel.

The new stadium is expected to be designed for two phases of construction and will initially house 18,000 spectators under a roof with the pitch open to the sky. The original funding approved in October 2013 allowed for the first phase to begin. Orlando City Soccer Club has indicated that they will again work in Tallahassee for approval of the same sales tax exemption that other professional sports venues in Florida already receive to proceed with the second phase.

As for how the new stadium will look, details were vague as Mayor Dyer stated that he wished for the building to have an “inside-out” view that represented Florida. More specifically he indicated that the building should reflect the style of the Amway Center and the Citrus Bowl. (As a lifelong Orlando resident, I have no idea what “inside-out” means in the context of Floridian architecture.)

Rawlins in comments to MLSSoccer.com has previously indicated that he would like the venue to be similar to Sheffield Wednesday FC’s Hillsborough Stadium in that it has the spectators loud and close to the field.

The construction of a soccer specific stadium was the last puzzle piece before the Lions were able to land a franchise with Major League Soccer. On a trip to speak with local leaders before the last vote was held, MLS president Mark Abbott took a tour of the stadium site and remarked that comparatively speaking, Orlando’s site was the best stadium location in all of MLS.

The new stadium will be complete by the summer of the Lions’ inaugural campaign in the top flight league. Orlando City will call ESPN’s Wide World of Sports home for 2014 before moving into the renovated Citrus Bowl for the beginning of the 2015 MLS season.

During the run up to the MLS expansion announcement, several renderings by architectural firm Woods Bagot surfaced that showed what appeared to be a design for the new soccer specific stadium however team officials quickly ended that notion. The announcement of Populous as the actual design firm means that we could be seeing stadium renderings in the next several months. As usual, I’ll post anything I see here.