City of Orlando unanimously approves funding for soccer stadium

AdamaMbengueOrlandoCitySC1-CharlotteEagles (OrlandoCitySC)

By DAN KARELL

On Monday afternoon, Orlando City Soccer Club moved one step closer to building a soccer stadium that they could call home and probable entry into Major League Soccer.

The City of Orlando board of commissioners voted 7-0 to approve funds that will go towards Orlando City SC building a soccer-specific stadium by 2015, when they hope to be able to enter MLS as an expansion franchise. The final obstacle to pass for the club comes on October 22 when the Orange County Commissioners will vote on the funding plan.

“This is obviously a very big step toward our goal of bringing MLS (to Orland0),” Orlando City SC President Phil Rawlins said in a statement on their website. “I am delighted to have the City behind us so we can now focus on the second vote that is only two weeks away.”

According to a report in the Orlando Sentinel, the total construction cost of the stadium is estimated at $84 million, with the city chipping in with $20 million and raising another $20 million on tourist taxes. Orlando City SC is expected to spend $30 million on the construction of the stadium as well as make annual payments to the city for the next 25 years.

With the exception of New York City FC, who are set to join MLS in 2015, MLS Commissioner Don Garber has made it clear that in addition to paying the expansion fee, new franchises need to have their own soccer-specific stadiums before they can receive league approval to join. At the MLS All-Star game in July, Garber stated his intentions to expand to 24 teams by the end of the decade, and in early September, had said that three of the four open expansion spots had “already been spoken for,” with many being lead to believe that Orlando is among the three.

Since Rawlins moved the team from Austin to Orlando in 2011, they’ve won two USL Pro titles, including a wild 7-4 playoff final victory against the Charlotte Eagles in front of a record 20,886 people at the Citrus Bowl, where the club plays it’s home games.

After making an agreement with Sporting Kansas City in MLS last winter, the MLS club loaned out a number of players over the season to the club to gain experience, with forward Dom Dwyer scoring an impressive 19 goals in 14 appearances, including four in the final.

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What do you think of these developments? Do you see the vote passing on October 22? Think it’s only a matter of time before MLS officially approves the club into the league?

Share your thoughts below.

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

43 Responses to City of Orlando unanimously approves funding for soccer stadium

  1. MisterJC says:

    I hope they can make it work…

  2. Travis in Miami says:

    In these days of budget cuts for nearly every service one can imagine (especially in FL), spending public money on sports stadiums is a travesty.

    • soba says:

      Foock the public one more time.

    • matt says:

      you do realize that these expenditures pay themselves back in indirect ways, such as the spending on game days ect.

      obviously this won’t repay itself, but its not a horrible investment.

    • Donovan Roper says:

      You are very wrong, Travis in Miami, because only Orange County tourist taxes are involved, with no general revenue tax funding at all. Get your facts straight before you judge . Just because the Marlins ownership raped the State years ago on their new stadium doesnt mean others inevitably repeat the same process. Orlando City Soccer Club Rules !

      • 32810 says:

        His uninformed Miami perspective on everything is the real “Travis-ty.”

        • Travis in Miami says:

          Terribly clever ;)

          But in our states current political climate I don’t think there can be an excuse for tax revenue from any stream going to a frivolous stadium. And with all the pork attached too – oh, great the Citrus Bowl will be updated too, oh -and the performing arts center get to be completed even though it could raise enough money itself. They did a nice job of building a coalition – sticking a little in for every political leaning.

      • Travis in Miami says:

        Any money raised by taxes are the public’s money.

        Why can’t Orange county pull a some more tourist taxes for their schools that the state continues to cut and cut and cut?

        These types of creative revenue generating projects come up in these cases but rarely in cases of genuine need.

        • 407 says:

          “Why can’t Orange county pull a some more tourist taxes for their schools that the state continues to cut and cut and cut?”

          Same reason in Orange County and Orlando as in Tallahassee and Washington DC: the foxes are guarding the hen house.

          In this case, much of the population of Central Florida would prefer tourism-derived taxes to be budgeted at least in part toward things like schools, roads, parks, and whatever else—except, presently the law still prohibits that and the local elected representatives who would change that law are frequently bankrolled by the tourism leaders and owners who pay for the elected class’ campaigns. So the law remains and only things broadly related to attracting events and visitors are permitted by the law, along with ever-larger advertising budgets for tourism. So the whole thing gets stuck, and you’re left with elected figures beholden to tourism who won’t spend a nickel on anything at all for the local population, whether it’s one new school or a half-billion dollar new arena for the Magic—until they do the latter.

    • Increase says:

      I think Orlando might be a special case. It roll as a city is to be a tourist destination. Having a MLS team adds to that. Arlington Texas is a great example of what you mean. They keep building stadiums but every time i have been their the town is still pretty crappy looking.

      Also you can just raise taxes on Disney if you ever truly need the money.

      • 407 says:

        The sad/funny thing is, there is a greater likelihood that Disney would raise taxes on Orlando before anyone in Orlando ever raised taxes on Disney. (Just a joke, but still.)

        If you’re interested, read up on something called the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which is Disney’s own government inside Central Florida, and fully and completely blessed by the Florida government in the mid 60′s so that Walt would build a new Disneyland in Orlando, but on a massively larger scale. Disney in Orlando/Central Florida has been its own entity unto itself for about 45 years now. This is where the opinion comes from, outside of Central Florida that Orlando’s role as a city is to be a tourism destination, which of course is false, but is entirely forgivable that anyone outside of Orlando arrives at that conclusion. I had friends in college who thought that the entire city of Orlando merely lived at Disney.

  3. Mike Ruze says:

    Welcome orlando mighty ducks!

    Sigh a league that’s already deficient of technical players is going to water the league down even more.

    Surely this team will succeed where all other fla MLS teams have not …maybe .. Most likely not

  4. timothy says:

    I’m not too concerned about the league getting watered down. I’ve been following the league for several years now and have been impressed every year with how much better it’s gotten. Just 2 years ago, MLS was unwatchable for the first few games of the season until the teams got their rhythm. Now I can watch teams get 10 passes in a single possession. With an expansion team, the quality of MLS will, if anything, stay the same as the year before.

    As far as the team succeeding, I think they will. The fan base has proven numerous enough that they can reasonably expect 18k per game. Unfortunately, we have to just accept that there are few markets that can post numbers like Seattle. But our attendance figures league wide are similar to that of France, which is a respectable league.

    • Donovan Roper says:

      Tim, Orlando City is not gonna ‘water down’ anything in MLS, dude. We beat Colorado Rapids 3-1, & also Sporting KC 1-0 in Kansas City, in US Open Cup play THIS year, remember ?

      • Steevens says:

        Tournament play is very different from league play. I’m sure you’re aware that many MLS clubs do not make much effort to do well in US Open Cup.

        The level of opposition for Orlando City week-in and week-out will increase. They will be playing catch-up, making signings, and developing an (MLS) team identity, which is exactly what any expansion club in any sport should expect.

        • slowleftarm says:

          True, although Portland and Montreal have shown that teams can become competitive relatively quickly. Of course, Toronto FC has shown that teams can be absolutely terrible for years on end too.

    • Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

      Not trying to rip on your post, but there is no one that can draw even close to Seattle in the US.

      I don’t care about the French league comparisons…the US leagues are doing great. Improving at a very fast rate and a lot of very smart fans are enjoying it.

  5. solles says:

    MLS here they come

  6. nickp91 says:

    if Orlando gets an MLS team attendance at games would increase by 150 percent

  7. Lived in Orlando one summer – welcome to 85/85 – 85 degrees, 85% humidity. In Orlando when the weathe forcast say 20% chance of rain, it means it will rain 20% of the day – usually during the evening commute. (sorry FL, but when you grow up in CA, you’re a CA weather wimp – over 85 too hot, under 70 to cool).

    • AzTeXan says:

      As someone who has lived in Austin for 18 years and Houston for 5, please toughen up in this heat for your children’s sake. You’re turning them into wimps.

    • Cencalfooty says:

      Don’t lump all Californians together! Us morons who live in the San Joaquin valley tough out the 100-110 days! Too damn hot.

  8. Sean says:

    As someone who has been dying for years for NY to have a team IN the city, the “exception” on the stadium rule for NYCFC is keeping me from becoming a fan. In recent years, as the clear mistakes of starting in football stadiums became evident, I became 100% unwilling willing to support a team, for one minute, to launch in a baseball or football stadium. MLS made a big error with NYC.

    • slowleftarm says:

      They’re going to be playing in Yankee Stadium for a long long time. And while the Bronx is part of NYC, the stadium is further from most of the city than RBA. Get over the fact you have to cross a river and come out to see RBNY instead of Sheikh Mansour FC.

  9. sly says:

    Im not concerned about level of play take the cream of the USL/NASL/NAACP some middling soutjh american talent and one over priced over hyped former genius. Theyll be as good as (any team 6 place or lower in each conference) and maybe even make the playoffs.

    Just dont know if they can maintain the hype. It is Florida so huge strike against them.

  10. Fredo says:

    I’ll make the trip to watch Orlando lose to The Galaxy.

  11. Wow!! Great news for Orlando soccer fans you will have a home ground.

  12. drew11 says:

    This is nice but the big vote is in a couple weeks.

  13. Jubez says:

    Assuming Orlando is next into MLS, I’m guessing that means Houston gets to go to the west. This might be the best thing about any positive decision for Orlando.

  14. slowleftarm says:

    Good news. Hopefully the stadium gets final approval, Orlando would be a good addition.

  15. Skifast! says:

    Looking at the picture, the kits in the USL look so much more authentic and original than the cookie-cutter MLS ones. Just sayin’

    • Beto says:

      Agreed, Adidas is the worst kit makers, and MLS cut a deal making them the provider for every team in the league… I know they have been financially helpful but please!

  16. Herb says:

    Get ready for Kaka , the orlando team owner is a brazilian billionaire…

  17. Herb says:

    Get ready for Kaka! The orlando team owner is a Brazilian billionaire and has promised a brazilian beckham