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Lions make a roar in the Orlando community

The+Orlando+City+Lions+have+made+a+mark+on+the+Orlando+community%2C+raising+more+than+%24400%2C000+in+2016+for+various+charities.
The Orlando City Lions have made a mark on the Orlando community, raising more than $400,000 in 2016 for various charities.

The Orlando City Lions have made a mark on the Orlando community, raising more than $400,000 in 2016 for various charities.

Celeste Monsieur/Flickr

Celeste Monsieur/Flickr

The Orlando City Lions have made a mark on the Orlando community, raising more than $400,000 in 2016 for various charities.

MICHAEL HULL, STAFF WRITER

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On March 8, 2015, the Orlando City Lions took on New York City Football Club in what was the Lions first game as a major league soccer (MLS) franchise. More than 60,000 fans packed the Citrus Bowl to watch the team play. Alongside the Orlando Magic, the Lions became the city’s second major professional sports franchise.

A lot has happened since that day in March. The Lions have completed two seasons of MLS soccer, they have a brand new stadium that is near completion and they have turned into one of the more recognizable soccer franchises in the country. Their impact on the soccer world has been large, but their impact can be seen even more so off the field in the Orlando community.

The new stadium is a 100 percent privately funded project and will seat 25,000 people. It will also have a special section of seats dedicated to the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting. The Lions dedicated the 49 rainbow colored seats in early January. The seats are located in section 12 of the stadium since the tragedy took place on June 12. These seats will be opened to the public for purchase.

The club donated 390,000 dollars to the One Orlando Fund after the Pulse tragedy. After the shooting, Orlando City also hosted a game where all the benefits from the match went to the fund. The game was sold out with people decked in purple #OrlandoUnited shirts. The Lions held a moment of silence before the game. First responders of the attack were honored as well, and the proceeds from certain auctions and merchandise from the game went to the One Orlando Fund.

The club has had an astronomical effect on Orlando. They set up a foundation called the Orlando City Foundation, whose mission is to “use the sport of soccer to promote a healthy lifestyle that enables children and families to reach their full potential.”

Multiple events were carried out by the foundation for the community in 2016, including First Responders Night, Teachers’ Appreciation Night and Faith and Family night at Lions games. In order to help people in need, several drives were hosted, including a Thanksgiving food drive in which they donated more than 300 turkeys and other celebratory foods.

The Orlando City Foundation has also hosted many fundraising events such as the Kick for Kids Footgolf Tournament, the PlayBingo Ladies Luncheon and an awards gala. More than $400,000 in donations was raised in 2016, and all of it went to various charities and programs.

“I had no idea how transformational Orlando City would be to our community and how quickly soccer fever would reach such a high pitch,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer told Orlando City’s website.

The Orlando Pride, which were founded in 2016, are the female soccer team of the Orlando City club. A whole new aspect is brought to the club by the Pride. It reaches to a new section of fans that the men’s team did not reach, especially with who they brought in for the team.

Alex Morgan is arguably the most recognizable female soccer player in the world. She was the first acquisition that the Pride made in its inaugural season, a year that the team won six games. The Pride has brought even more to the Orlando community, because now Orlando has three major sports teams contributing to the city everyday.

The Magic have been in Orlando for almost 30 years and have made an enormous mark on the Orlando community on their own, but Orlando City has made a different impression, inspiring a whole new generation of kids to go out and exercise, along with helping the community to grow into one of the great cities in the country.

 

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Lions make a roar in the Orlando community