Osceola County Stadium will be converted into a pro soccer facility prior to the 2020 season, as USL League One’s Orlando City B supplants the Florida Fire Frogs (High A; Florida League) at the venue.
This spring, it was revealed that Fire Frogs ownership accepted a half-million-dollar buyout from Osceola County, effectively ensuring that the 2019 season would be the team’s last at the ballpark. The buyout allowed county officials to make way for a modified facilities plan from MLS’s Orlando City SC, which is developing a training complex at Osceola Heritage Park (OHP). Initial plans for the complex indicated that the surrounding backfields–once used as part of the Houston Astros’ spring-training operations–would be converted into soccer pitches, with the ballpark left unchanged. However, the scope of the project was later altered to include the use of Osceola County Stadium.
Orlando City B will use the former ballpark for home matches beginning in the 2020 USL League One season, and other events are expected to be hosted there as well. Renovations to convert the facility for professional soccer (a rendering depicting a soccer pitch is shown above) will be completed ahead of the USL League One season next spring.
“The addition of Osceola County Stadium is another major step in the growth and expansion of our Club infrastructure alongside Exploria Stadium, the Orlando City SC Training Complex at Osceola Heritage Park and the Orlando Pride training facility at Sylvan Lake Park,” Orlando City SC CEO Alex Leitão said in a press statement. “Not only will the stadium provide a new home field for Orlando City B, but it will complete the move in having our entire men’s development structure at one location; a location that all players – from our Development Academy to USL League One to the First Team – will call home. We are extremely excited to expand our training complex and to reinforce our commitment with a high-class soccer infrastructure for our players, staff and fans.”
“The addition of Orlando City B to our stadium is very exciting. This, in addition to the previously announced training complex, marks another milestone in our growth as we welcome the world of soccer to our facility,” said Robb Larson, general manager of OHP/ASM Global.
As for the Fire Frogs, the buyout of their lease and plans to convert Osceola County Stadium for soccer have all but ensured that the team will play elsewhere in 2020. For now, no official announcement has been made regarding the team’s 2020 plans. The Fire Frogs arrived after the 2016 season, when the former Brevard County Manatees moved from Space Coast Stadium in Viera to Osceola County Stadium and rebranded, becoming the first affiliated minor-league team to call the ballpark home since the Kissimmee Cobras (High A; Florida State League) in 2000. The Astros used the ballpark for spring training from 1985-2016, before shifting spring operations to West Palm Beach.
Rendering courtesy Orlando City SC.