SBD/August 27, 2013/Facilities

Florida Mayors Mum On Stadium Proposal Calling For Taxpayer Share Of MLS Team

One stadium propsal calls for a taxpayer stake in an Orlando MLS club
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs have "remained silent so far on a proposal to require Orange County taxpayers get a share" of any Orlando MLS expansion franchise if the public "subsidizes a new $85 million stadium for the team," according to David Damron of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. Jacobs has "taken no stance" on Orange County District 3 Commissioner Pete Clarke's proposal. Clarke "wants Orange to be a long-term financial partner with the team and get a share of its annual revenues or any sale of the team -- if county taxpayers invest $20 million in its facility." Dyer's spokesperson  said "our legal department is reviewing if that concept is legal or not." Jacobs and USL Pro club Orlando City "have also not weighed in on another proposal" by Orange County District 4 Commissioner Jennifer Thompson, which asks the team to provide $1.5M in "public soccer fields in return for any county stadium subsidy." The team under the current plan "would put in $30 million, and a ticket fee that fans would pay could leverage another $10 million, with the last $5 million coming from other sources, including nearby local governments." Clarke said, "I want a better deal for taxpayers. I want some kind of return on our investment" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 8/24).

BOWLED OVER: In Orlando, Mark Schlueb noted city commissioners yesterday in back-to-back presentations "heard why a renovated Citrus Bowl will be able to compete for major events and why Orlando City Soccer Club couldn't play there." Supporters of a $95M sports and arts funding package "made their pitch for public money to the City Council." The package, which Dyer dubbed "Venues 2," would "provide tourist-tax dollars for a professional soccer stadium, the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, the Citrus Bowl stadium and travel and event marketing." Florida Citrus Sports President Steve Hogan said that the "extra money to renovate the Citrus Bowl would give the facility an edge in securing major events." Orlando City Soccer Club Owner Phil Rawlins "explained why his team won't be playing there if it becomes the next" MLS franchise. He said, "We would love to play in the Citrus Bowl. It would save us $30 million … (But) it is not an option." Rawlins said that MLS "requires new league members to play in smaller soccer stadiums with covered seats" (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 8/26).
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