By DAN KARELL
The city of Orlando and Orlando City SC inched closer on Monday to building a stadium of their own, a precursor for a future expansion franchise in Major League Soccer.
At 5:50pm on Monday, the Florida State Senate passed SB-306, a bill that will help Orlando be able to afford the price of a new stadium in the downtown area. The bill, which now moves to the Florida House of Representatives, would allow professional franchises to compete against one another for tax rebates. Orlando is asking for up to $1M a year in rebates to pay for a potential new stadium, which is set to cost a total of $105 million.
Orlando City Soccer are currently playing in USL-Pro, and are averaging a reported 8,360 fans per game so far in the 2013 season.
Here are some more stories to get you caught up around American soccer:
U.S. OPEN CUP FIELD IS SET
With the qualifying matches over, the 68-team field for the 2013 U.S. Open Cup is set to begin, starting with a play-in round on May 7.
Teams such as the Brooklyn Italians of the NPSL and North Texas Rayados of the U.S. Adult Soccer Association qualified into the tournament, and will start play on May 14 in the first round. The draw will take place later this week.
The 16 Major League Soccer teams based in the U.S. will begin play in the third round of the competition, set to take place on May 28. Last year’s tournament saw Sporting Kansas City win their first U.S. Open Cup over the defending champion Seattle Sounders in penalty kicks.
The oldest soccer tournament in the United States is celebrating it’s centennial with a larger field of teams and more prize money available to the winners, as 34 professional teams join 34 semi-pro and amateur sides in the competition.
MLS REFEREES VOTE TO UNIONIZE
On Monday, the MLS officials who work matches voted to certify the Professional Soccer Referees Association in an attempt to unionize and collectively bargain for future rights.
According to a report from the AP, some referees have a contract for the 2013 season, but many of the assistants and other match officials do not. The PSRA will bargain with the Professional Referee Organization, the group that sets match official assignments for MLS, MLS Reserve League, NASL, and USL-Pro matches.
What do you think of this news? Do you see the bill passing in the Florida House? Which teams do you think can make a run in the U.S. Open Cup? Do you agree with the referee’s decision to unionize?
Share your thoughts below.