The Orlando City Soccer Club made official Thursday that it will take over Osceola County Stadium, ending the county’s 35-year affiliation with professional baseball.
The move had been rumored and talked about much of the summer and fall; Orlando City has already replaced two of five back baseball fields with soccer fields, is working on a third for an artificial turf surface, and has its youth academy working out on the remaining two fields in the outfield.
Orlando City CEO Alex Leitão said the acquisition of the stadium makes it possible for the club to have all of its men’s teams practicing or playing at one site — the Major League Soccer team, while still playing at Exploria Stadium near downtown Orlando, will train right here at Osceola Heritage Park.
“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,” he said.
If the surface needs to be completely replaced, it will be the second time in two years for that. Osceola County replaced the baseball playing surface ahead of the 2019 Florida Fire Frogs season to address persistent drainage issues.
Osceola County Stadium was built in 1984 for $5 million, and welcomed the Houston Astros’ in 1985 for spring training. They called Kissimmee their home for their Florida operations until 2016, when they moved to a new facility built in Palm Beach County. The Osceola Astros, later called the Kissimmee Cobras, played in the Florida State League from 1985-2000. The Fire Frogs, the Atlanta Braves’ high Class A team, played three seasons in the stadium, with their 1-0 victory over the Dunedin Blue Jays on Aug. 25 serving as the final pro baseball game at the complex.