Report: Orlando City to be awarded MLS expansion if stadium plans are approved

DomDwyer (Orlando City)

By MIKE GRAMAJO

The dream of Major League Soccer coming to Orlando is now in the hands of the Orange County Board of Commissioners.

According to a report from the Orlando Sentinel, MLS President Mark Abbott, who is in Orlando ahead of Tuesday’s crucial county vote, said that the league will move “very quickly” if the county votes in favor for a downtown soccer stadium.

“We’d like Orlando to be the next expansion team,” Abbott told the Sentinel. “We have in place a number of the factors that we think are needed to be successful, a strong leadership group and a strong fan base, but in order for a team to come here we need as stadium. So I’m here to express that enthusiasm to the commissioners.”

With only five out of seven votes needed to grant Orlando City the Tourist Development Tax (TDT), which will secure the last part of funding for a a soccer-specific-stadium, Orlando City looks likely to be announced as the 21st MLS expansion team in the coming weeks.

Recently, the Lions have pushed a wave of social media campaigns urging residents in the Central Florida area to lobby and call county leaders to vote in favor a stadium located in Downtown Orlando. Meanwhile, Orlando City has partnered with U.S. Soccer to bring the United States Women’s National Team to play their final game in 2013 on November 10 when they host the Brazilian women’s team at the Florida Citrus Bowl.

Orlando City SC President Phil Rawlins mentioned last week during a U.S. Soccer press conference if everything falls ideally in place, within a matter of weeks they hope to be announced as an MLS expansion team.

Earlier this month City of Orlando commissioners vote unanimously in favor for leaving the last part of the TDT in the hands of Orange County leaders.

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What do you think of this development? Do you see Orange County leaders voting in favor for a soccer stadium? Do you believe MLS should expand to Orlando?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in Featured, MLS- Expansion, USL Pro. Bookmark the permalink.

109 Responses to Report: Orlando City to be awarded MLS expansion if stadium plans are approved

  1. Jay in Florida says:

    Awesome news, hopefully the stadium plans are approved, we need a Florida team in the MLS.

  2. Travis says:

    This is how it should be, reward teams and cities from lower leagues that have drawn numbers. kudos to Orlando, hope it passes.

    • Ian says:

      Exactly. Orlando SC drastically juxtaposes with NYCFC . On the one hand, you’ve got a team with a rabid, “organic” fanbase. On the other, you have no fanbase at all. Makes me wonder if there’s any cogent philosophy in selecting expansion teams. Portland, Seattle, Philly, Montreal, etc. prove it’s best to bet on real life fans.

    • Beto says:

      Hope for

      • Beto says:

        More of this for teams 22, 23, & 24! Never would have imagined Orlando would be the one to stand out too..

        Miami, Altlanta, MN, Sacramento, Cosmos, San Antonio, St Louis, Detroit, Ottawa, Indy, anyone You want an MLS team? Show us a rocking nasl/usl/whatever league team and we will listen

  3. Jon says:

    Well, yeah, I think we all knew that.

    But, Florida politics…woof.

    • Travis in Miami says:

      Florida politics for sure – Florida has so much need in so many areas and they come up with creative revenue streams for a freakin soccer team. (and it’s not because I live in Miami and am jealous. I wouldn’t be happy if this was happening anywhere in Florida)

      SMH…

      • kryptonite says:

        Actually Orlando is taking tax from tourists to pay for a stadium to draw people from outside of Orlando to come spend money in Orlando to pay taxes to Orlando they otherwise wouldn’t receive from the outlying counties around Orlando. Seems to make sense

  4. byob el paso tx says:

    Finally the southeast gets a team, but as many say, Florida is not part of the southeast.
    So orlando is 21st, and Miami will be 22nd.
    Then number 23rd and 24th is going to be a rat race ;)
    You got atlanta, san antonio, detroit, cosmos, minneapolis, sacramento, with serious plans but my gut tells me, MLS wants warm city markets like Atlanta, Miami and San Antonio. Only if vegas would put out a dubai style of sss and money.
    By the way, so does SKC and Dynamo go west because i think SKC should stay in the east and MLS should have said, we will be a 26 team league by 2022 and as wvhooligan has said on his website, MLS wants 28 teams.

    • Kingsly Alexander - Man Rey - Plotinus - Sankt Pauli! says:

      With their political and social views their southern alright

      • malkin says:

        When making irrelevant, derogatory, blanket statements showing you are a political hack, it’s best not to mix up they’re/their/there. It’s almost as bad as saying “Your an idiot.”

        *Hint: It’s the second “their” that made you look like a fool.

      • Roman Lewandowski says:

        Ignorant, uninformed, misspelled…

        • Kingsly Alexander - Man Rey - Plotinus - Sankt Pauli! says:

          Orlando is split between the 8th and 3rd districts. Look up their politics. Both are held by republicans you swat

    • Atlanta Futbal Fan says:

      “Then number 23rd and 24th is going to be a rat race”

      Lol. Keep telling yourself that. Atlanta’s a done deal.

    • JR says:

      If MLS adds Miami, Orlando, Atlanta and San Antonio or Sacremento it would make it easier to go to the European Schedule. End of July to December then the Russian break until Mid February then finish at the end of May. Play those December and February games in the south, California, and Vancouver and its a done deal.

  5. Atlanta Futbal Fan says:

    Good. Our MLS club will need a nearby rival to defeat on a regular basis.

  6. Mike R says:

    Let’s go Orlando Mighty Ducks!!!

  7. Sly says:

    Not worried about it getting approved, worried about if the fickle florida fans will maintain interest. In the playoffs the Heat cant get people to show up on time for the greatest basketball player on the planet. How is a team filled with guys from the expansion draft gonna do?

    • 407 says:

      It’s two different cities 6 hours apart, in two different sports, and the one in Orlando has a very large existing fan base for the division-3 team over the past three years. Or in other words, the MLS Orlando franchise has nothing to do with your example.

    • kryptonite says:

      Miami does not equal the rest of Florida. Rays and Magic do well regardless of winning. With the exception of the Dolphins and to some degree the Heat, pro sports in Miami struggle. Orlando should be fine with attendance as shown by the attendance numbers at the USL Pro level.

  8. bakunin says:

    So, are tax payers expected to help pay for this?
    Love the sport, but we are in the midst of a global economic crisis and seems like we should have more appropriate priorities. Even the Brazilians have had enough of working people financing private/for profit projects for the 1%. Really tired of the “privatize profits, socialize losses” game plan.

    • Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

      Agree 100%….as I buy post season tickets for the Sounders in their massively expensive stadium funded by public money tax increases.

    • Juest says:

      Yes, but this would be a part-govt., mostly privately funded project. I agree with you in theory, but I will say that this is one of the better stadium deals made by a local govt. They might even manage to break even on this one.

    • drew11 says:

      No, it’s money from a hotel bed tax. Visitors will pay for it not “taxpayers”. The stadium will generate more visitors, who spend and pay more tax, etc. Good investment and everybody wins.

      • Atlanta Futbal Fan says:

        Lol. We had to keep re-explaining this to people in ATL when our stadium was up for approval. Amazing that people have a hard time understanding.

        • 407 says:

          They just don’t want to, not counting the ones incapable of clear thought. It’s the same crap burped up again and again.

    • Mason says:

      A place like Orlando can just stick it to tourists.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      Soak Disney and then use massive mouse ears for the roof on the stands.

  9. Love it or leave it says:

    Somebody needs to pitch to Disney for partnership.

    They flopped hard on the last couple of movies. MLS is a good investment and then we will also start seeing MLS highlights on ESPN

    • Good Jeremy says:

      I guess it couldn’t turn out any worse than the Angels or the Ducks. We would get a pretty sweet movie out of it too: David Spade is a unorthodox soccer coach who needs to win the championship to save his family from wolves!

  10. blokhin says:

    Finally a reason to visit Orlando!

  11. F19 says:

    Can’t wait for the excitement of another manufactured rivalry like Galaxy/Chivas! Orlando-Miami will surely light up Nielsen boxes across the nation!

    At least Orlando is trying to build a soccer specific stadium and has preexisting support for a team, unlike the nonsense that will be the totally forced NYCFC and the seemingly inevitable Beckham-Miami team. The double standard from MLS is ridiculous. They’ll bend over for Man City or Beckham, no real stadium plan or fan base be damned, but they’ve made Orlando jump through every hoop to get in.

    • Ian says:

      Yeah, it’s ridiculous, but money talks.

    • malkin says:

      Relax, they were awarded the friggin team and you’re still complaining? And with respect to the fan base comment, Queens alone is 10 times the size of Orlando, and Harrison is 2 hours away from Queens.

    • whoop-whoop says:

      It’s business…. risk vs reward. You really can’t see the difference in potential between a high dollar proven investor in the largest sports/media market in the world vs. a market that has proven itself to be tepid at best? The reason Orlando is being made to jump through hoops is it is a highly risky proposition in an isolated, limited market where even a success story would have a pretty low ceiling. People from other parts of Florida won’t likely support the team let alone crossover throughout the South East. Frankly, I am surprised it is even being considered. Expanding/building a business, money certainly does talk…. not just in hand/up front, but in long term earning potential.

  12. Chuck says:

    Pro sports franchise in Florida…those go well.

    • Ted in MN says:

      My thoughts as well.

      • Bumby Hemmingway says:

        Florida seems to have a long tradition of attracting expansion teams — and then no one supporting them.

    • McQ says:

      +1 Lets see MLS has had two failed franchises in Fla. lets go for the hat trick!

      • Colin in MT says:

        In fairness to Orlando, the landscape of the league has changed dramatically since 2001 when those teams folded. The Mutiny were owned by the league and the Fusion’s owner wasn’t that wealthy. Also both teams played in NFL stadiums.

        I think it would be a lot harder to fold a team that has (1) a fan base from years of USL existence, (2) a SSS, and (3) a very wealthy ownership group that is committed to Orlando.

  13. DanO says:

    Good for Orlando, but where does MLS cap the number of teams?

    24? 30 like the NFL? That’s a lot of teams with a limited talent pool.

    I get that MLS gets an expansion fee, and that helps the bottom line in the short term, but what’s the long term plan here?

    Then again, maybe there on to something… Have a warm weather city and a cold weather city share a franchise and play year round…

    • RB says:

      Hasn’t the league already said 24? Or is that just the idea/goal for the more foreseeable future?

      • CeezNYRB says:

        Foreseeable future. My money is on MLS expanding to about 40 — 20 in each conference (MLS.1, MLS.2)

  14. AlexH says:

    Putting a team in Orlando would make a great deal of sense if MLS moves to a traditional calendar if more warm weather cities get teams as well. You can then have the cool weather teams have home stands during the summer and the warm weather teams have homes stands during the winter. This would limit the number of games played in excessive heat or cold.

  15. nickp91 says:

    Orlando City has really been a first class organization throughout the whole expansion process

  16. byob elpaso tx says:

    At the end of the day, i see MLS with 26 to 30 teams, with an equal amount of teams in each conference. As for NASL, they should thank MLS for all the leftover markets who will not make it to MLS, since they will end up in NASL.
    USLPro already stated that they want like 40 to 60 teams right and NASL can easily handle 20 teams.
    But like i said before, MLS wants the international calendar and that is why they will get Orlando, Miami, Atlanta and I say Sacramento in order to work with the weather.
    On the other hand, MLS can raise the bar and ask northern markets (cold markets), who want to join MLS, to make a SSS with full roof cover and heated field , simple as that.
    For example, the detroit man who wants MLS has said he would make a 250$million stadium, then why not ask for a heated field or retractable roof. Same thing for minnesota, cosmos, and it would be smart for DC , new england revolution, new york city fc, owners to think ahead and make a winter ready stadium.

    • slowleftarm says:

      As always – total nonsense.

    • Mueller says:

      26 is too few. It will be like other American Leagues and have 30-32 teams. In my opinion 32 teams (28 US and 4 Canadian) would be perfect.

    • slowleftarm says:

      40 teams with 2 20 team divisions and pro/rel.

    • Good Jeremy says:

      So do we just put an ultimatum on both New York clubs, New England, Montreal, Toronto, Salt Lake City, Denver, and Columbus that they make a SSS with full roof cover and heated field for the winter, simple as that, or get kicked out of the league?

  17. slowleftarm says:

    Well deserved. This is how MLS expansion should take place – by having teams with a pre-existing rabid fan base join the league. Unlike Sheikh Mansour FC, where MLS bends over backwards to create a team in a city with no stadium and no demand for another MLS team.

    • byob elpaso tx says:

      as always- total nonsense and welcome to the real world.
      the city I live in el paso tx, killed our rapid fan base when they broke down our soccer stadium for our el paso patriots, who almost won the US Open Cup. Its been years but the day will come………….

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      I disagree, of the top 3 minor league teams on attendance, this would mean Orlando and NY (well, Cosmos but close enough) are in and only San Antonio is not. The more interesting argument to me is that the last two with their bigger populations may have more ability to “scale up.”

      • tw says:

        Along with Portland and maybe eventually San Antonio, Orlando is one of the large metro areas without major league baseball. I’d expect above average attendance and media coverage when the team is good.

  18. Beto says:

    Good news, glad to have another quality team in MLS, especially in a region where it was really needed.

    From a USSF perspective a lot to be excited about too;
    So many athletes (USNT players too) come out of Florida; high hopes for an academy there. Also USSoccer needs a east coast warm weather stadium where they can get guarenteed support. Having something like Sporting Park in a location like Florida would be huge for USSF.

  19. Herb says:

    Much rather would be sitting in an orlando stadium in Dec, Jan or Feb than in jul, Aug or Sep!

    • Beto says:

      +1 no one is advocating for playing in December or January but i would certainly take Orlando, Houston, Dallas, LA or DC in February over Midsummer

  20. Steve says:

    lol Orlando. what a horrible place. who would want to play there. the players on that team will be so depressed. soccer in the summer in florida is disgusting, i hope disney sponsors the team and they get a rotating cast of disney characters in the locker room to cheer them up.

  21. Cosmosfan says:

    Somewhere Man City USA is laughing at Orlando FC, i mean having to have a actual long term stadium plan green lighted and actual fans that are in place to move the grassroots needle…what is that all about anyway.

    • Beto says:

      Lol i hope orlando is paying a little less than NYC!

    • jspech says:

      here here…. well said. NYCFC running daily t-shirt contest. What a joke. U know how NYCFC is joke, every MLS club that I can remember had a grassroots supporter’s group. I live in NYC & have yet to see supporter’s group emerge. IF one know of one please in form me. Or NY Yankees does not count.

  22. MLS_Soccer_Talker says:

    MLS to Orlando? Bring on the Mickey Mouse League jokes

  23. Fat albert says:

    City? And lions? I get that these guys are British, but does it have to be shoved down our throats? It doesn’t help the general popularity (or TV ratings) when we alienate a good portion of the potential audience. I’m not suggesting minor league hockey nicknames, but why City? No one has ever called Orlando, Florida –City. EVER.

    • Roman Lewandowski says:

      Whom does it alienate? A lot of people relish the idea that soccer is “different,” even “foreign.” That is part of the sport’s appeal in the US.

      I also think a lot of people would agree with me that the American-style nicknames are the worst ones in MLS. KC Wizards or Sporting KC?

      • Vermonter says:

        “KC Wizards or Sporting KC?”

        …Neither?

        You’re not going to find a defense for KC Wizards (or Dallas Burn, or NY/NJ MetroStars) from me. But is there not some sort of middle ground? Something that sounds reminiscent of American pro sports culture, without sounding like the *worst* of American pro sports culture (i.e. Arena Football)?

        Sporting KC has always stuck in my craw, because it feels grammatically incorrect for the English language. If you really want to call it “the Kansas City Sporting Club” (“Sporting Club,” being a term no American has ever used to describe anything American), you’d call them “KC Sporting” for short, no? But instead they go with Sporting KC, because of all the things we probably *should* directly copycat from Europeans, we went with the most shallow, superfluous one: team names.

        I’m sorry, this is not a can of worms that needed to be opened, and will not be settled on a website. It had just been building up for a while.

        • Roman Lewandowski says:

          That’s valid. I disagree but absolutely see your points. Thank you for taking the time to write a well-argued post.

          • Joe says:

            This man is right. The american MLS team names are embarrassing and you should all be embarrassed.

            • Rory says:

              I would much rather have the Wizards than that Sporting KC nonsense. Sorry, we are Americans and we like nicknames and mascots for our teams. Nothing worse than in England where half the teams nicknames are “the reds” or “the blues” or any of that crap… Especially when they play in different colors every season.

              • BamaMan says:

                Except that Sporting KC has witnessed huge growth in support and revenue since the name change. I’ve got no problem with a team using an American-style nickname when there’s some history associated with it (Earthquakes, Timbers, Sounders, etc.) but otherwise, I think clubs are better using Euro/Latin American naming conventions. It signals to your fanbase that you’re a soccer club, not a minor league hockey team.

              • CeezNYRB says:

                Really? “We” do? I don’t remember EVER liking nicknames and especially not mascots but thanks for bringing this to my attention. Next time, I’ll make sure I don’t forget what I like.

        • BamaMan says:

          The goal is to bring in soccer fans, not general sports fans. There are enough soccer fans in the US (USMNT, MNT, Liga MX, EPL, La Liga, etc) for MLS to sustain itself as a major league. Soccer-specific rebrands have been successful at this (Sporting KC, Real Salt Lake). Orlando City Lions may not be may favorite name, but I know it’s a soccer club when I hear it.

      • Kingsly Alexander - Man Rey - Plotinus - Sankt Pauli! says:

        What would you know about it twat?

        • Roman Lewandowski says:

          This site does a good job of keeping away the ESPN-style riff raff, but I guess some will always sneak through without all-out censorship.

          • Kingsly Alexander - Man Rey - Plotinus - Sankt Pauli! says:

            I don’t happen to visit espn’s website.

            I’ll call you what I want if your going to say I’m ignorant and uniformed. What a statement. Because Florida isn’t massively and traditionally republican? Last time I checked majority rules. TX is just as bad as Florida, which isn’t to say there isn’t a share of liberals and pockets of them in masses, but inevitably TX is as red as they come just like FL

            • RB says:

              I wouldn’t say you sound ignorant and uninformed. Now rude, ranting and just crazy — sure, based on the evidence on display here…

              • Kingsly Alexander - Man Rey - Plotinus - Sankt Pauli! says:

                I’m referencing something from a comment he made earlier. I’m not eventing anything here but that’s fine. Although idk what it means to you.

    • Clyde Frog says:

      Who exactly will feel alienated?

    • Chuck D says:

      Actually, Orlando is known as “The City Beautiful”

  24. mls1/2 says:

    32 teams

    2 16 team tables
    two separate league playoff formats
    one national playoff format

    each team plays all other teams for a 31 game schedule

    bottom 3 in 1st division do down while top three in 2nd division go up

    • Mueller says:

      I thought the magic number of would be 32 for awhile now, but I don’t like relegation and I would like have every team play home and away for a 30 game schedule. I would like the second, third, and fourth divisions to be similar to baseball where the first division team owns all the minor league contracts and they can move the players up and down as they see fit.

      • go euro or go home says:

        You could still have “farm teams.” Also, your structure would have a 62 game schedule, not a 30 game schedule.

        In my structure, relegation would not mean any major changes in revenue, but it would still be a way of putting importance on the middle of the table. My whole idea is based on the fact that I like having a single table. Conferences and divisions are unnecessary and bog the league down. Just let all of the teams play each other and see who has the most points. Then have playoffs (or at least the championship game of a playoff tournament).

        • Rory says:

          We aren’t stopping expansion until the league makes enough money to survive without its number one source of income: expansion fees! We are going to have 32 teams by 2030

        • Mueller says:

          I meant only playing the teams in your league so 15×2=30. You could also break it into divisions as well and do 4×3+12×2=36. I like divisions because it means less travel, which could make more away fans go to games and development bigger rivalries. I like the idea seeing Seattle play Portland more than Seattle playing Chivas, San Jose, etc. Also its cheaper for the league and there is less fatigue for players so the stars will play more often.

          I don’t like relegation because what’s to stop everyone for building teams in the biggest cities and avoiding smaller markets. There are 5 EPL clubs in London. Could you imagine the league if a quarter of the teams were in New York. It wouldn’t be good. Also the only people who like relegation are the fans of teams who don’t have to worry about relegation. Relegated teams are forced to sell most the stars and some big clubs go bankrupt and never get back up. If you don’t have to have have it, there is no point. Team can just relocate if there isn’t enough fan support.

          • Mueller says:

            Divisions could be:
            West
            1.Portland
            2. Seattle
            3. Vancouver
            4. Calgary

            1. Galaxy
            2. Chivas
            3. San jose
            4. Sacramento

            1. Las Vegas
            2. Phoenix
            3. Salt Lake
            4. Colorado

            1. Dallas
            2. Houston
            3. San Antonio
            4. OKC

            East
            1. DC
            2. Atlanta
            3. Orlando
            4. Miami

            1. Montreal
            2.Toronto
            3. Detroit
            4. Minneapolis

            1. Red Bull
            2. NYCFC
            3. Philadelphia
            4. New England

            1. Columbus
            2. Chicago
            3. KC
            4. Indianapolis

            I think it could create some good regional rivalries.

    • Bob says:

      32 teams? no thanks

      should have been 20 teams with pro/rel.

      Most Americans tune MLS out now and will continue to do so if it starts looking like the NBA

  25. Colt says:

    Cap it at 32. Play home and home for a total of 30 games on the European schedule. Top 4 in a 2 leg semifinal, then a championship match. Bottom 4 play home and home tie for relegation. Top 2 from mls 2 get promotion. The relegation system works everywhere else in the wirkd. This way we get the euro relegation promotion system and the Classic American playoff system. I wish they’d cap at 20 like the EPL and have 2 20 team leagues, but we know that’s not gonna happen.

    • Colt says:

      Got ahead of myself. Meant play everyone once for a total of 31 games

    • paulwp says:

      Or…. cap it at 24 (for at least the next 20-30 years. There’s a lot of growth needed before we’ll have the quality of players to expand further… included the salary cap approaching 50 mil). Each team gets 2 “minor league teams” which are then divided into three 16 team tables. Promotion and relegation will happen within the three minor league tables, and MLS stays with the same 24 teams. I think, along with some earlier posters, that a baseball style minor league system is America’s answer to the Euro system. To top it off, what will make US soccer the best in the world in 2050 will be the salary cap. you can’t have promotion and relegation among the lop flight with a salary cap involved. But promotion and relegation will add a much needed excitement to the minor leagues.

      • Bob says:

        if a baseball style system was what soccer leagues need then why hasn’t the rest of the world tried it?

        oh by 2050 we’ll be the best in the world? And the salary cap is the reason? Do you even think things through or just vomit out this BS?

        • Argus says:

          It will take another generation before real soccer fans are running things. Then we’ll get what everyone wants: balanced schedules, pro/rel, points based championships, respect for the Open Cup. Right now it’s ex-NFL goobers trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Just wait til they’re outta there and things will start to change.

          • Larry says:

            lets hope!!

            I truly believe that most soccer fans in the US agree with what you’ve said. Just look at MLS TV ratings. Most American soccer fans are ignoring the league.

  26. ElMetrofan says:

    I bet the the deal comes with sharing it with some college football team.

    • CSD says:

      UCF built their own stadium to get out of the football stadium in town. There already is a football stadium available in Orlando for a college football team if one is needed.

    • CSD says:

      Maybe a lacrosse team or an ultimate frisbee team will share it with them.

  27. BamaMan says:

    This scares the crap out of me. I think Orlando is a very solid market for MLS expansion. But I feel like the league is becoming addicted to the revenue of expansion fees and is not adequately focusing on generating revenue from the league itself.

    • Clyde Frog says:

      I wouldn’t be so worried. At least not yet. The recent expansion teams have been disproportionately responsible for the revenue the league has been able to generate. While this could of course change at some point, expansion has proved thus far to be what MLS does best.