And today Orlando City opens its home account by hosting Wilmington Hammerheads, who are themselves beginning their season tonight.
When Wilmington chose to sit out the 2010 season, people were completely shocked. Then the defending champions of USL Second Division (what was then the third tier), they drew a respectable 2,467 per home game, second in the league. Analysts had no idea how, or even if, they would recover.
(That hiatus eventually brought Jamie Watson to the Lions, BTW.)
They answered the critics emphatically in 2011 when they joined USL Pro. Their per-game average attendance of 3,926 was good for third in the league, and rivaled attendance in the second-tier NASL along with Orlando City, Rochester Rhinos and Charleston Battery.
They rewarded their rabid fans with a second-place finish in the American Division, with just one less win than the Lions. They fell in a 5-4 penalty shootout to Richmond Kickers in the opening round of the playoffs following scoreless regulation and extra time.
The question is, what can they do for an encore? For that matter, what can the Lions do for an encore following their 2-0 win at Charlotte last Saturday?
Chris Jones crunches the numbers. Adam Soucie has the match preview, though the title has the date wrong.
The parking lots will open early at 1pm today. I mentioned the tailgates and after-parties yesterday. The Ruckus tailgate in Lot L is accessible off Long St. The ILF tailgate in Lot U is accessible off Rio Grande Ave.
And team ownership wants to remind you that fireworks and other incindiaries ARE NOT PERMITTED AT THE CITRUS BOWL. Some of the supporters brought sparklers to the preseason friendly against Philadelphia Union in February. Not even these are allowed. The Ruckus has a fog machine; that was authorized by the venue.
Fireworks and incindiaries are expressly forbidden in the lease, and could get the team in trouble. Thus, anyone caught with such items will be kicked out and banned from future games.
UPDATE: Orlando City is taking calls selling tickets at the office until Noon today. If you want to get tickets, or season tickets if you want, call 855-675-2489. After that, they will be moving operations to the Citrus Bowl Box Office by Gate C.