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Orlando City Soccer Gets Its Stadium (Probably)

August 9, 2013

It’s not done yet—I imagine there’ll be some pretense of protest from the Orange County Commission, though not much more than that—but with Mayors Dyer and Jacobs agreeing to spend $94.5 million in tourist taxes, and given the assent of the Tourism Development Council today, it sure looks like Orlando City Soccer will get its stadium, and with it probably an MLS bid.

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer agreed to a deal that will complete funding of a downtown multi-purpose soccer stadium, one of the final steps the club has to bringing a Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise to town.  Announced after the Tourist Development Council (TDC) meeting in downtown Orlando Friday afternoon, the deal includes a $20 million pledge for the stadium—which will be put up to a final vote to the Orange County as well as City of Orlando Board of Commissioners at a later date.

The stadium’s first phase will cost $85 million, and the team plans to ask Tallahassee for an additional $30 million next year to complete the facility. The mayors’ deal also includes $12 million more for the Citrus Bowl and $25 million more for the performing arts center, both projects that have battled delays and funding shortages over the past few years. And, to appease the all-powerful tourism lobby, they threw in $27.5 million for more marketing funding—you can’t have enough glossy brochures!—and an extra $10 million for the Orange County Convention Center (the $187 million the county approved for the convention center’s five-year capital improvement plan last year clearly wasn’t enough).

So, everybody wins. (And you get a car! And you get a car! And you get a car!)

PS: In next week’s Orlando Weekly, I’ll have a (lengthy) cover story about the tourism tax that’s funding these projects—and why we desperately need to change the law that governs it.

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  • Benjamin J Rizzo

    The soccer stadium is another sickening example of corporate welfare. The would-be owner of Orlando’s MLS franchise is a Brazilian businessman who sold his chain of foreign language schools for $400 million earlier this year. Not mentioned is the $8.4 million that the City paid a few months ago for the land in Parramore that it wants to build the soccer stadium on. I would like to know how much land was purchased and who decided it was worth $8.4 million (and how that was decided). Let’s not forget that the $20 million will come from bonds issued by the City of Orlando, so corporate welfare also means more debt for taxpayers in this case. The City’s share of the tourist tax revenues apparently is tapped out due to its earlier corporate welfare for the Devos family and the Orlando Magic and its pandering to rich people with the DPAC.

  • Clinton

    Every professional team has city and county and state funding. A tourist tax fior a new soccer stadium which is the popular sport in the world will bring more tourist and huge economy benefits. Corporations move to cities that have sports and other tax benefits. We have no state tax and with a nice performing arts center and with the new basketball arena, renovates citrus bowl, and new soccer stadium will make downtown a real big city downtown and give citizens who are tired of tourist attractions give them something to enjoy. But people don’t understand. The citrus bowl brings in huge tourist tax and helps local businesses and a professional soccer stadium will attract more tourism then the tax money to help pay for it. In 15 years it will bring over a hundreds of millions of tourist tax income. So this will make the city, county, and money. We had a chance to get the nfl and MLB but the old mayor Glenda hood said no to raise tourist tax. Now Jacksonville and Tampa/st Pete benefit more tax revenue then it cost to build the stadiums. People don’t understand what professional sport brings to a city. One give the city pride and brings more business and helps the city a better place to live with entertainment. People who say this is corporate welfare are idiots. The owner is paying more than the city is. We should renovate tinker field and bring a minor league baseball team. Now people live downtown and with more reasons to go downtown it will sell tickets. Jacksonville minor league team in downtown Jacksonville has a huge turnout for games. People want Orlando to be a small city but we are not a small city. It’s time for the young people to enjoy the city. It’s time for the old people to back off and let the the next generation have their turn to make Orlando a better place to live. The last generation screwed up by losing the nfl and the MLB. This generation will bring more business and more tourist.

  • Susanna

    This article fails to mention that team owner is paying $30 million towards stadium.
    The MLS is on a fast track in the US with soccer being the world’s most popular sport (we need to get out of the America mindset bubble) and if Orlando doesn’t act quick, it will miss out on this opportunity that WILL more than pay for itself.

  • Richard Kennedy

    Now that we have fully funded the educational system in Central Florida, making it one of the best in the United States, I have no problem spending money on bringing MLS to Orlando. Renovating the Citrus Bowl will certainly bring in hundreds of thousands of more fans each year to see a fancy stadium, rather than the dump it is. People don’t come to see the college bowl teams… they just pay the big $$ to visit a nice stadium. Go ahead. Spend the money on corporate welfare needs. We no longer need money for the homeless shelter 100 yards from the new stadium, as we’ve found employment and housing for the people that lived in the now completely unneeded, vacant shelter.

  • Daniel L. Wright

    Orlando and the powers to be are under the impression that to be a top notch city they have to spend millions of dollars in corporate welfare to insure sports teams do not leave the city. What an absolute waste of the taxpayers money by these clowns.

  • Mark Daniel Adamczyk

    soccer sucks