New Brazilian owner has big plans for Orlando

By Paul Kennedy

Brazilian Flavio Augusto da Silva, who was introduced as the new owner of Orlando City, has big plans for the USL PRO club. He hopes to make it a destination for Brazilian tourists and says he already knows the Brazilian star he wants to sign. All this would assume a move to MLS, which would require a new soccer-specific stadium.

Da Silva is, to say the least, bullish on American soccer and the city of Orlando.

“Soccer is not a sport of the future in the U.S.," he said. "It is a reality."

Da Silva, who made his fortune in education, hired a research firm to evaluate opportunities in three cities in the Southeast, and Orlando came out on top.

Orlando City led USL PRO with an average of 6,606 fans a game at the Florida Citrus Bowl in 2012. It will need a stadium of its own if it wants to be considered for an MLS franchise.

"The new owner gives Orlando a major advantage in its drive to be named the next MLS expansion franchise," Orlando City said in a statement. "To secure a move up to the major leagues, MLS requires clubs to have, among other things, a fiscally stable and established ownership group and a stadium seating between 18,000 and 25,000."

The Florida Citrus Bowl, which hosted matches at the 1994 World Cup, seats more than 65,000 fans.

Governor Rick Scott has expressed his support for Orlando's plans for a soccer stadium. Two bills pending in the Florida legislature would qualify an MLS stadium for state tax rebates to help offset construction costs.

OPEN CUP WEB SITE FUNDRAISER. -- the web site devoted to the U.S. Open Cup, which is celebrating its 100th year in 2013, is in the final hours of a fundraiser.

The goal is to raise $10,000 for a redesign of the site and make the current and historical information on the site more easily accessible to media, teams, and fans alike and make improvements to increase traffic.

Recent news included Open Cup qualifying in Maryland, where Santino Quaranta's Pipeline SC rallied from three goals down in the last 35 minutes to win their quarterfinal match, and "The First Cup” series, which revisits the first edition of the tournament that took place from the fall of 1913 to the spring of 1914.

(Click here for more information.)
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