Orlando City's initial campaign in Major League Soccer should be viewed as a massive success. The club posted middle of the table results, but has clearly won fans over at the gate. Last season, the team averaged nearly 33,000 in attendance each week. While the club continues to play matches at the Citrus Bowl for the remainder of the 2016 season, it looks towards the future in its new, privately funded facility.
The new stadium will debut for the 2017 season, pushed back from the originally scheduled mid-2016 opening. Orlando has already increased capacity for the stadium by 6,000 seats. Preliminary plans called for a 19,500 seater.
It's too premature to determine whether Orlando City is experiencing a surge in fan interest due to that "new" factor. Whether that excitement dies down over time is yet to be seen. However, if this year's home opener is any indication, central Floridians aren't letting up. The club pulled in a solid 60,000 fans this past weekend.
The problem lies in that Orlando is regularly averaging above its new stadium's capacity. According to an article posted on Florida Leisure, it appears highly unlikely that OCSC would be able to expand beyond 25,500 seats. These complications are due to the space constraints of the land. Much of the new stadium is built along the streets.
In comparison, Portland is also unable to meet its ticket demand. A waiting list for Timbers season tickets is currently at 11,000 people. Portland has a much better situation than Orlando, however. Portland has played at Providence Park for years and has grown into the facility. The city holds ownership for the venue and possibilities are currently being explored to expand to meet the demand. Portland isn't playing in a brand new facility which is unable from day one to sell a ticket to all those that want one.
Orlando, on the other hand, has yet to open the doors to its new stadium and its capacity will be insufficient from the start. The club is currently able to meet its ticket demand at the Citrus Bowl, though that will stop come the 2017 season. With no long term plans to meet its ticket demand, many Lions fans may be out of luck for most matches.
On a positive note, the extra demand for tickets ensures a fantastic match atmosphere and many sold out games. Orlando is certain they won't be playing matches in front of half empty seats.
Atlanta United does have one benefit from playing in an NFL stadium. With current plans to seat 29,000 fans and utilize a canopy system to create an intimate atmosphere, Atlanta can expand capacity as needed for each match. For most matches, the team can use its canopy system as designed. For home openers and high demand matches, Atlanta can open the top sections and sell whatever allotment is required.
Atlanta has a ways to go before it can claim as much success as Orlando, but at least it has the ability to meet demand each and every week.