Orlando City Soccer Gets Its Stadium (Probably)
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.