ORLANDO, Fla. (Jan. 18, 2024) – Thursday morning ushered in a new era for Orlando City SC's and Orlando Pride's soccer-specific stadium as Inter&Co, the club's Official Financial Institution, was announced as the naming rights partner in a long-term deal.
Becoming the first financial institution with Latin-American roots to own the naming rights of a major stadium in the United States, the new stadium sponsor brings not only benefits to the stadium itself but also to the soccer side of the Club.
"I think it's massive for us," Orlando City General Manager and EVP of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi said. "It's people that understand the sport. They've grown up and know all the ways around, and not only Brazil, but you can talk to them about any player, any teammates, or soccer team, and they've been involved in soccer for a long time. So it's massive to have people like that associated with us. They're going to help us big time, and we're going to help them, too, to grow the brand. So, it's a perfect marriage."
For both Orlando City and Pride, the partnership looks to raise the profile of both teams down in South America, with Inter&Co already having investments with Brasileiro Série A clubs Athletico Paranaense and Fortaleza Esporte Clube, as well as the MRV arena, Clube Atlético Mineiro's home stadium.
"This wasn't a decision made in a silo by business, this was a decision made as a full club - both of our GMs, myself, our owners, and numerous other folks that work with us," President of Business Operations Jarrod Dillon said. "Part of that is raising our profile. When our GMs and other staff are out recruiting around the world, partnering with someone like Inter&Co, who's really well-known in the soccer world, is helpful. Being able to go grow our brand with international marketing rights in Brazil is very helpful from a brand awareness standpoint. Plus, the fact that we're in the most global city in the U.S., in our opinion, when you look at the demographics and our visitation. We're set up very uniquely for a partnership like this, which I don't think would work in any other parts of the country."
For Orlando City, its footprint in Brazil was something that was brought to the forefront back in 2014, when Ballon d'Or winner Kaká signed for the Lions as their first-ever Designated Player. Since then, the relationship with the Brazilian community has only continued to grow.
"It opens up chances for us to do more," Muzzi said. "With South America, it has been our bread and butter traditionally. It opens up chances for maybe some of our Academy kids to go and get practice and more of that and more interchange with a market like Brazil and South America in general."
On the Pride side of the coin, Marta's signing in 2017 marked the beginning of a slew of South American players joining the NWSL side. This year, Orlando will have five players who play for Brazil's National Team, plus one from Argentina's National Team who will suit up in purple. For Pride General Manager and Vice President of Vice President of Soccer Operations Haley Carter, getting more exposure for not only Orlando but the NWSL as a league is an extremely exciting prospect.
"There's so many Brazilian fans of the NWSL in Brazil, there's so many Brazilian fans of NWSL out here, and there's so many fans of Brazil here in the U.S., so I think being able to bring all of those communities and connections together is exciting," Carter said. "As far as a return on investment is concerned, to be able to see, culturally, a Latin American company and a company in Brazil want to invest as much as they are in the women's side, it's really exciting. I think that shows the progress. It shows the benefit and the opportunity to invest in women's soccer and being able to talk soccer with business people and business with soccer people is really exciting."
Not only will the partnership expand on the Pride's footprint in Brazil, but some of the opportunities that Inter&Co will bring to the table, including financial literacy programs in the community, is something that can be invaluable for many players as well.
"Being able to have a connection with the Latin American community and the Brazilian community both in Brazil and here in the greater Orlando area is going to be significant," Carter said. "I am especially excited about what Inter&Co has to offer from a player side. The ability for us to offer financial literacy classes and resources for our athletes, and even for others in the Orlando community, I think is going to be really important. I've harped from day one on the importance of developing our players on and off the field and the resources, the investment, and the interest that they have in our athletes, both as footballers and as people. I think it's really, really compelling, and I'm looking forward to what this partnership brings."