It’s getting busy! What’s getting busy you may ask, the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World. First, it was the NBA (National Basketball Association), and now we’ll the MLS at Disney World (Major League Soccer). It’s safe to say the sports world is descending upon the mouse’s house. While the NBA will be restarting their season, could we see something different from the MLS at Disney World? As they in the futbol world, let’s lace up our “boots” and head out onto the pitch!
Resolution is the word. When discussions began around having the MLS at Disney World there was much hesitation from the players. The combination of bringing all players to Orlando and the lack of a collective bargaining agreement between the league and players that ran beyond the current year put everything in flux. The season could no resume until both parties sorted out a new agreement.
When there’s a will there is a way. On June 3, 20202, the league and the players found the middle ground on a new collective bargain agreement. The new agreement will run through 2025. It was clear both parties were looking to restart the season, as the players took a pay cut and adjusted the how revenue would be shared in order to offset the revenue losses facing ownership. Pack those bags, we’re going to Disney World! With the agreement signed next stop is bringing the MLS at Disney World.
Ah, yes the World Cup reference we made in the title. When we see the MLS at Disney World it will not be in its traditional fashion. From what we understand the league and players have agreed to play a tournament at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. Early indications point to a World Cup-style tournament for all 26 teams. There would be group play first, followed by a single-elimination knockout tournament to crown a champion.
Champion? Well, champion of the tournament. The tournament champion would earn a spot in the 2021 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League. Both the players and league agreed that tournament would mark the restart of the 2020 season. More or less like pre-season to get ready for the rest of the league. The plan is once the tournament is completed the teams would return to their respective cities with the hopes of continuing the season. A league champion would be crowned at the completion of the playoffs. The tournament will consist of 54 matches and run from July 8, 2020, to August 11, 2020.
Disney World Impact
It’s the question we’re asking ourselves. How will the MLS at Disney World impact upcoming trips to Walt Disney World? Similar to the NBA, we’re hearing the players will stay in “close” proximity to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. With the NBA more than likely setting up shop at Coronado Springs Resort, we could see the MLS stay at another Disney World moderate resort.
Hmm…which resort? Before we can answer this question we have to do a little math to estimate how many people in total the teams will bring to the tournament. Based on the number of players on each team and additional staff members, we’re estimating 45 people per team. This means a safe estimate would be 1,170 people in total. In theory, both the NBA and MLS could fit at the Coronado Springs Resort, if they decided to go down this path. This may make the most sense as Coronado is in close proximity to the ESPN Wide World Sports Complex and secluded for regular Disney World guests.
Another option would be Port Orleans Riverside if the leagues would look to separate players for safety. The resort has many similar characteristics as Coronado Springs. Additionally, Disney has not recalled food and beverage cast members for the resort. This is similar to Coronado Springs Resort. If Port Orleans Riverside were to be used for housing the MLS teams we would expect any guests reservations at the chosen resort to be moved. Historically, if Disney needs to move guest reservations it would usually involve some type of upgrade or compensation for the change. With Disney reopening with at much lower capacity there will be plenty of rooms for all current reservations to be moved.
The under that radar option would be the Swan and Dolphin resorts. With reservations at these two resorts officially canceled through July 29, 2020, we could easily see the players stay here. Reports are strongly hinting that when the MLS at Disney World kicks off the players will be close to the ESPN Wide World of Sports, but not saying they will stay at a Disney resort. When looking at the NBA negotiation Disney resorts were mentioned on multiple occasions. With both the Swan and Dolphin resorts being operated by Marriott and close to the ESPN Wide World of Sports, we could easily see this being the spot.
Lastly, it is expected that the players will not have access to the parks and will not count towards the over capacity of Walt Disney World.
MLS at Disney World is all systems go. Games will begin on July 11, 2020. While nothing has been announced regarding guests being able to attend the games, we’re expecting there will be no fans. This would be similar to how the European soccer leagues restarted their season. The one thing to watch for is if the games would be simulcast into the Walt Disney World guest rooms. According to ESPN, Walt Disney World will be taking over the production of the tournament games and they could simulcast the games for guests to enjoy as well.
Plenty of fields! With 17 outdoor fields, there is plenty room at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex for the MLS. The part we find most interesting is the timing. It looks like the tournament could conclude by the beginning of August which could match up well with potential increases to guest capacity. This leads us to believe the players may be at a different resort than the NBA. Disney would have plenty of time to reset the resort for regular guests after the tournament concludes. No matter what, this will be a fun tournament to watch! Alright, we got to run and work on our plenty shots!