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Sports, as unlikely as it may seem, have been helping Americans deal with tragedy for decades, there was Brett Favre playing a football game the day after his father died and then there are the New York Yankees, that became all of America’s team following the attacks of September 11.
Orlando City are now hoping they can help their community heal in the shadow of the largest mass shooting in U.S. history, which took 49 lives at a nightclub less than three miles from where the club play their home games.
The Lions have already announced they will dedicate their first home game since the tragedy, on Saturday, June 18 against San Jose, to support #OrlandoUnited.
“Our city has endured dark moments in the past couple of days following two horrific acts of violence, and we are looking forward to using the influence of our sports team to bring some positivity into people’s lives,” said Orlando City SC Founder and President Phil Rawlins. “We are in the midst of tirelessly working to create a memorable gameday experience to honor the memories of our brothers and sisters on Saturday.”
A part of the remembrance will be an MLS first, as the club will stop live play during the game to hold a 30-second moment of silence.
The club will also have commemorative gameday posters for a suggested $5 donation and game-worn jersey auction with all money raised going to OneOrlando.
Orlando City has also announced that they will have a permanent memorial in Section 12 of the new stadium that will feature rainbow seats to represent each victim. Orlando City is now also a title sponsor for Orlando Pride Week in October. The club made a $100,000 donation to the OneOrlando fun through their community Orlando City Foundation.
Other sports franchises around the state are showing their support of Orlando, including the Tampa Bay Rays who are gave out a promotional shirt that says “We Are Orlando” and sold all remaining tickets for Friday’s game for $5 with all proceeds going to the Pulse Victims Fund. At the time of this publishing the Rays website only showed five tickets available for purchase.
The U.S. Men’s National Soccer team honored the victims in Orlando with a moment of silence in their Copa American Centenario quarterfinal match on Thursday and Michael Bradley wore a rainbow colored captains armband for the match.
Orlando City’s game against the San Jose Earthquake is Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Camping World Stadium. It’ll be the first major sporting event in Central Florida since the shooting.