ATLANTA — Orlando will host another major sporting event next year — the 2019 MLS All-Star Game.
Major League Soccer will soon announce its annual marquee event is heading to Orlando City Stadium, multiple sources told Pro Soccer USA.
The event draws fans and media from across the country for a five-day celebration that typically includes a concert, news conferences, community service days, the Homegrown game — which features young MLS standouts — and culminates with the All-Star Game.
This year, more than 70,000 fans are expected at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta when the All-Stars take on Serie A giant Juventus at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Holding next year’s All-Star event in Orlando makes good on a contractual promise the league made to Orlando City when the club joined MLS in 2015. Orlando City officials always said a top priority after building a new stadium was to host the annual game. When Orlando City Stadium opened at the beginning of the 2017 season, MLS commissioner Don Garber reiterated the league’s pledge to bring an All-Star Game to the city.
“We’ve committed to bringing an All-Star game here,” Garber said at the time, also lauding the city of Orlando’s support for the team.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer also gave his support then, saying, “This is the best soccer stadium in the world, declared here today. Commissioner, an MLS All-Star Game would be the next perfect event for this city.”
The Central Florida Sports Commission submitted a bid to host the event last year, and previously estimated it would cost $350,000 in operational expenses. Last summer, government leaders considered a request to use tourist tax money to offset the cost.
It will be the latest major event to be held in Orlando. Camping World Stadium, the former home of the Lions, hosted the past two NFL Pro Bowls and is set to do so again in 2019. It also hosted WWE’s Wrestlemania last year.
During MLS All-Star week, the league traditionally drapes downtowns in massive banners and signs. The faces of their star players can be seen on every street. It’s a week-long soccer takeover.
“Bigger and better every year,” Garber said of all-star week during a fan Q&A Tuesday.
And after unveiling a new mini-pitch installed in Atlanta in conjunction with the all-star festivities, Garber told reporters, “It’s important for us doing the kinds of things we do off the field. It brings a profile to the league globally. It’s important for our sponsors. It’s important for our owners. It’s important for the soccer community to come together.”