- Chris Green
Exploria Stadium – Orlando Pride
Photos by Chris Green, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.14
Exploria Stadium 655 W Church St Orlando, FL 32805
Orlando Pride website Exploria Stadium website
Year Opened: 2017
The Pride of Orlando
Note: In June 2019, the name of the venue changed from Orlando City Stadium to Exploria Stadium.
When professional soccer came to Orlando in the form of MLS’ Orlando City SC, many were surprised at the level of support the team received in their new stadium right off the bat. The women’s soccer team, the Orlando Pride, was introduced to the city’s sports scene soon afterward, and quickly became equally as popular as the men’s team among the city’s sports enthusiasts.
The addition of world-class talent from America and abroad made the team an instant favorite and a perennial title contender. Orlando City Stadium, their home, is also arguably the best in women’s professional soccer in the US, having hosted the NWSL Championship in 2017.
Food & Beverage 3
The food and beverages at Orlando City Stadium for Pride games echoes that of Orlando City SC matches. The standards are all there, from pizza to burgers, from hot dogs to nachos, and fans can choose from this traditional stadium fare. Additionally, the price of each item goes down by a few dollars if you are a member of the Orlando City fan club rewards program, or are a season ticket holder.
Orlando City Stadium has concessions stands throughout the entirety of the main concourse on all sides during games, meaning you won’t usually have to wait too long or go too far to get something to eat or drink.
The feeling at Orlando City Stadium during Orlando Pride games is immediately and wholly impressive from the moment the fan walks in. This modern gem of a soccer-specific stadium harkens to proper football establishments throughout England. The north end zone, aka The Wall, is a standing-only supporters section where fans cheer, sing, fly their flags, raise tifos, and erupt with smoke bombs every time the Pride score throughout the entirety of the game, and the energy never stops regardless of the score on the field.
While the lower bowl is the only seating available for Orlando Pride games, leaving the upper levels empty, the seating on the upper east sideline spells out O-R-L-A-N-D-O in yellow seats against their purple counterparts, helping make the emptiness seem like a non-issue. However, while the home fans are loud, it is hard not to notice that filling the upper levels could add that missing factor on game day.
Orlando City Stadium is perfectly located within walking distance of downtown Orlando, along public transportation lines, and just blocks from major highways. When looking at a map, the stadium is smack dab in between the Amway Center and Camping World Stadium.
What can you say about downtown Orlando? With Orlando City Stadium within walking distance from downtown, fans can park in one of the various lots and garages downtown, then return on Church Street, the hub of Orlando’s rebirth as a foodie and entertainment destination.
The City of Orlando has become a sports-thirsty destination over the last few years, with the explosion in popularity of Orlando City SC and a renewed interest in the Orlando Magic, the City Beautiful loves sports.
There are suburbs to the west of Orlando City Stadium, with the downtown city center on the east. There are tons of hotels nearby, and since the arena sits next to I-4, getting to other resorts and hotels in the greater Orlando area is not hard to do. If you want to stay somewhere nearby, Aloft Downtown Orlando and the Grand Bohemian Hotel Orlando are right in the middle of downtown. For food, the Orlando Pride faithful flock to the Lion’s Pride, as well as Schumann’s Jager Haus. For attractions, Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando are both mere minutes south of the downtown area.
The Orlando Pride faithful are among the best in sports. For each game, the lower bowl fills with soccer fans from across central Florida, who want to get a glimpse of the country’s best stars from international competitions. The Wall becomes the center of the singing and chanting throughout the game, and the whole stadium erupts whenever goals are scored by the Pride players.
Orlando Pride fans are also among the most sports-knowledgeable in the country when it comes to professional women’s soccer. While other cities have their fans, few fill out the seats like those in Orlando.
Orlando City Stadium employs two important aspects that fans must know before going. First, unless you are a family member getting tickets provided to you by a player, all tickets to Orlando City Stadium events are paperless, meaning they’re mobile only for you to enter. In addition, the stadium has gone with the growing trend of employing the clear bag policy at stadiums.
As far as getting there, Orlando City Stadium is not hard to find. Driving on I-4, you literally pass within a few yards of Amway Center, and Pride fans know that their stadium is just to the west on the same road, so finding either venue is quite easy. If you do get off and somehow get lost, signs all around downtown point the way to the various sports stadiums.
Once you arrive at Orlando City Stadium, the Geico Garage is your best option for parking. There are numerous parking options nearby in parking lots and garages near Amway Center and Orlando City Stadium, but there is no on-site stadium parking at Orlando City Stadium itself.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets to Orlando Pride matches are lower than those for Orlando City SC, so you are saving right off the bat when it comes to face value for admission. In addition, concessions prices are relatively affordable, with the average person looking to spend about $10-$15 for food and a drink. When also considering the incredible atmosphere in the stadium and the ease of finding the facility, you get a great option for a family that wants to see professional soccer with some of the best stars from around the world, without paying MLS prices.
The stadium features 49 rainbow-colored seats in the lower bowl, as a tribute to the 49 lives lost in the Pulse Night Club shooting.
Pride games also feature The Wall for supporters of the Pride, where a tifo is raised before games, and smoke and music fill the air throughout the event.
Finally, Orlando City Stadium features various additional seating and vantage points throughout the stadium for fans to look at, including the Disney World Lion’s Den and the Sun Pass seating.
While many would discount women’s professional soccer as sub-par to their male counterparts, one could easily argue the opposite. Orlando has become a beacon of what to do right with professional soccer in America, and that success translates to Orlando Pride games at Orlando City Stadium. With a talented team, a great facility, and easy access, this is one of the true hidden gems in all of Florida, and perhaps the country.