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Orlando City Soccer Club stadium shifts away from church site; city drops lawsuit (UPDATED)

August 4, 2014
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SkylineRenderingsYou know that thing the city does when it doesn’t get its way? How it screams “eminent domain” and waits for you to cower beneath the weight of its legal team, eventually allowing the city to buy you out at a cut rate? Well, that didn’t quite work out when Faith Deliverance Temple – which sits on the original planned new soccer stadium site – summoned the heavens and told the city, “no thanks, $4 million is a joke.” Well, today the city backed down (for once) and decided to shift the stadium over a little so as not to piss off anyone else in Parramore. The suit has been dropped, accordingly, and now everyone is happy (allegedly). Below is the statement from Orlando City Soccer HQ.

ORLANDO – August 4, 2014 – Orlando City Soccer Club President Phil Rawlins joined Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer today to announce an updated location for the downtown soccer stadium along Church St., just one block west of the original location.

“We applaud the Mayor for finding an alternative solution that is a win for everyone involved,” said Rawlins. “The new location allows us to remain on schedule to play our matches in the new stadium starting with the home opener in 2016. Our fans will benefit from added amenities created by the new location such as more entertainment areas prior to and after the matches.

“Importantly, this is also a win for the community of Parramore. Orlando City is committed to Parramore’s future and we will serve as a role-model for service and citizenship. We have a proven track record of delivering on our promises, and we look forward to working closely with our community partners.”

Enhanced Fan Amenities:

The basic design of the stadium remains unchanged, with initial seating expected for approximately 19,500 fans, a dedicated supporters’ stand, club and suites, and the larger-than-life-sized lion statue overlooking all the action!

The new site will enhance the match day experience by creating:

  • Additional plaza areas for future development that can be used for amenities and entertainment zones pre and post matches, including potential kids’ areas, concerts, etc.
  • More space for infrastructure and improved operations.
  • More room for premium amenities including year-round on-site parking for stadium guests, providing a true end-to-end first-class experience.

Dedicated to the Past and Future of Parramore:

Rawlins continued, “We recognize the rich tradition of the community and its deep connection to residents. Therefore, we will incorporate elements into the stadium, such as the Carver name in respect to the legendary theatre that resided on the site many years ago, to honor the heritage and educate visitors on the history of Parramore. Also, the Orlando City Foundation will continue to expand its work within the community.”

Orlando City announced it will form a committee of Parramore leaders, including District 5 Council Woman Regina Hill and Florida State Senator Geraldine Thomspon, to help stadium designers incorporate elements of the community into the structure.

The Orlando City Foundation, a 501(c)(3), is an ardent supporter of Parramore organizations like the Parramore Kidz Zone, New Image Youth Club, Summer of Dreams, Parramore Comprehensive Neighborhood Plan and others, helping to raise funds, donating equipment and volunteering time throughout the year.

Most recently, the Foundation’s free soccer clinics in Parramore have drawn hundreds of kids throughout the summer, introducing them to the game of soccer while teaching the importance of good nutrition.

UPDATE! HERE’S A LETTER THAT MAYOR BUDDY DYER SENT TO “COMMUNITY LEADERS” ABOUT TODAY’S DEVELOPMENTS. UM, IT’S FORMER COMMISSIONER DAISY LYNUM’S FRIENDS AT THE BLACK BUSINESS INVESTMENT FUND THAT WANT TO LIQUIDATE THE PROPERTY. YOU’LL RECALL THAT THE BBIF HAS BEEN MIRED IN CONTROVERSY AND ALSO (AND ALSO!) WAS GOING TO DEVELOP THE CARVER THEATER THERE. OH, AND ONCE MAGIC JOHNSON WAS GOING TO MAKE THINGS HAPPEN THERE, TOO, BUT ALL FOR NAUGHT. INSTEAD OF SPENDING $4 MILLION ON EMINENT DOMAIN, THE CITY – VIA THE COMMUNITY REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY – WILL SPEND $2 MILLION FOR THIS DEAD PARCEL. UGH:

Dear Community Leader,

I wanted to provide you an update on our Major League Soccer stadium.  Today we announced we are dropping the eminent domain case, shifting the site of the soccer stadium slightly west, and we will break ground in the fall ensuring the Orlando City Soccer Lions will play the 2016 season in their new home!

Most of you have followed the City’s effort to purchase Faith Deliverance Temple as the last parcel of land for our Major League Soccer stadium. From the very beginning the discussion with the Williams Family was always about relocating the church and the value of the land.  Just recently, the Williams Family announced for the first time that they were not interested in relocating.

With this in mind and the unpredictable cost and timeline that could come with the legal proceedings, we began to question whether there was an alternative site for the soccer stadium.  Around this same time, the Black Business Investment Fund (BBIF) expressed interest in selling the property at the corner of Church Street and Parramore Avenue back to the City. Until that time, we had not considered the property to the west in the development of a new stadium.

Last week, we finalized the final sale of the BBIF property.  With this purchase and a thorough due diligence process completed just last week, we determined that shifting the soccer stadium to the west was possible and actually presents a better opportunity for the City, the team, Faith Deliverance Temple and our residents.

We are entrusted to be stewards of the taxpayer’s dollar and this new location will save the City money with a definitive schedule. This new site also allows for a larger footprint for the stadium and additional parking.

Additionally, this adjusted site presents real opportunity for redevelopment.   The shift west frees-up two large parcels for infill commercial development and affordable housing, developments that will bring business opportunities, jobs and housing to Parramore residents.

The corner of Church Street and Parramore Avenue, where the Carver Theatre once stood, has a long history as the center of entertainment and a gathering place for the Parramore community.  I am excited about the opportunity that this location will once again be the vibrant center of the Parramore neighborhood.

Thank you for your partnership as we work together to revitalize Parramore and host world-class sports and events for our residents.

Buddy Dyer
Mayor

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  • Toddious

    While this was a resolution that was in theory a “win-win” for everybody, my guess is that the Church is secretly kicking themselves for being so greedy, and not taking the payday they were offered.

  • VideoboyMatt

    Sometimes it’s about more than just money.

  • Toddious

    I agree, and that may well be the case here, but it sure came across as greedy on their part. They could easily have built a new church with the money that had been offered, and still had plenty of money leftover to do actual good in their community.

  • Muko

    All this is assuming that the church actually had any intention of leaving their current location at any price. We could read into their $35m offer (and the $15m counter) anywhere we like, but it seems like they were fully aware that the city wouldn’t shake hands on either one.

  • KTA

    I think the city simply realized it didn’t really have a case for transferring private property from one owner (the church) to another (Orlando City) in the name of a sports venue. Gotta say I’m surprised they gave up the ghost instead of continuing to do all the bidding on OCSC’s behalf, though.

    I can maybe see the need for eminent domain if it’s being applied to build a brand new school, or hospital, or police/fire station, or a transit center — things that serve the public good. A sports venue, which would ostensibly be owned by the public, but would mostly serve to benefit its tenant (see Amway Center and the Magic) doesn’t exactly serve its people, does it?

  • Chris the Chris

    My own church was faced with an imminent domain case in the 70s. The Orange County Public Library downtown wanted the land for expansion. It went to court and the Church won.
    Of course it could appear as greed gone wild but when you meet people with a real calling from God, all those buyout numbers are simply math. And their vocation is not one of finance. Even in my own job when I’m told to do something I don’t want to do… I intentionally counter with an offer that is so ridiculously high as to let them themselves decide it isn’t worth the battle to change my mind. It tends to work out exactly like this.

  • Bob

    Case law allows for the city to use eminent domain in the name of economic development. The City can buy property trough eminent domain for the purpose of seller it to a developer or sports team or whatever.

    I’m not saying that’s right. I’m just saying it’s legal. Good for the church for standing their ground. The church will benefit in the end because if they ever do decide to sell, the property will be worth much more.

  • Factualist

    Doesn’t help the pastor went out and bought himself a big ole’ new BMW in the weeks leading up to this, hoping (praying), for a payday…