“Every year, hundreds of thousands of Brazilians visit Orlando,” said da Silva. “It’s our number one destination in the US and us Brazilians, besides being famous for our friendliness and willingness to buy at the outlets and malls; we are also a nation that loves soccer. More than that, we are a country of 200 million fanatics for soccer. It is a great honor that I now become a part of this vibrant soccer club, Orlando City, which is being built with boldness to make history in this country and will give much pride to this City.”
Until last week, da Silva chaired the Ometz Group, with 16 holding companies, including the country’s leading English language schools for adults, Wise Up, a FIFA World Cup Sponsor. On February 7th, the Ometz Group was acquired by Abril Educação, one of Brazil’s largest media companies. Today, Mr. da Silva still leads the Wise Up Group and is also the third largest shareholder in Abril Educação. As part of the acquisition, Mr. da Silva will oversee the development of Abril Educação operations around the world.
He also owns the Canal Geração de Valor “Value Generation”, where he shares entrepreneurial experience and advice; he has more than 304,000 followers on twitter and 670,000 on Facebook.
The new owner gives Orlando a major advantage in its drive to be named the next MLS expansion franchise. To secure a move up to the major leagues, MLS requires clubs to have, among other things, a fiscally stable and established ownership group and a stadium seating between 18,000 and 25,000. The Citrus Bowl and its upcoming redevelopment does not meet these needs, therefore, the club is on record stating that a 18,500 seat downtown stadium is their goal. The Lions recently presented an independent economic impact study to local press and political leaders which demonstrated that the stadium and MLS franchise would create a $1.3 billion impact for the region over the next 30-years.
Florida Governor Rick Scott came out in favor of Orlando’s MLS bid last week, saying “I am very supportive and will do everything I can do at the state level.”
MLS Commissioner Don Garber visited Orlando in March of 2012, leaving the town after meeting with Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and County Mayor Teresa Jacobs. Impressed by the support from Lion fans at a town-hall style meeting, Garber said “It’s not a matter of if, but a case of when” in regards to a franchise in Central Florida. The club has been in close communication with Garber and the MLS for over two years now.
Mr. da Silva’s investment gives Orlando’s MLS bid a unique advantage, immediately gaining ties to one of the biggest soccer countries in the world, Brazil. More announcements will be made on specifics regarding the ties to Brazil in the upcoming weeks.
The existing ownership group, which includes President Phil Rawlins, will remain in place and continue to run day-to-day operations at Orlando City. Flavio Augusto joins Orlando’s current local ownership group, which includes amongst others, entrepreneur John Bonner and Morgan & Morgan’s Scott Bates.