Orlando City FC's Stadium Plan Finds Opposition In County Commission
Orange County (Fla.) commissioners yesterday "questioned the financing plan" for USL Orlando City FC's proposed downtown soccer stadium, but were "mostly supportive of more funding to complete a performing arts center and beef up Citrus Bowl renovations," according to David Damron of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. Orlando City FC Owners Flávio Augusto da Silva and Phil Rawlins asked for $2M in tourist taxes to help build an $85M stadium, and said that the new facility is "needed to land" an MLS franchise. Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs said, "I still have some reservations." But she added she is "jazzed up and trying to find a way to make it happen." Orange County Commissioners Pete Clark and Ted Edwards "pointed to other new less-expensive MLS soccer venues and pressed for more details" on the project's $85M price tag, "which could climb" to $110M. But Rawlins said that the team is "committed to the downtown Orlando neighborhood of Parramore, and that the costs on the other new stadiums, in at least one case, have climbed" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 8/7).
IF IT WORKED FOR THEM...: In Orlando, Mike Bianchi writes MLS Sporting KC's Sporting Park "has become a civic jewel." In a city where the NFL is "king and college basketball is queen, America's heartland has fallen in love with the world's favorite sport." Orlando "should jump on board the soccer train, invest in a soccer-specific stadium and bring another major league sport to our town." Bianchi: "Let's face it, Orlando is not going to get an NFL or Major League Baseball team anytime soon, but we have been assured of an MLS franchise if we build the stadium." If it can happen in K.C., which also has NFL and MLB franchises, "think of how successful soccer could be in Central Florida." Orlando is a "bigger metropolitan area" than K.C., with a "larger international population and only one competing pro sports franchise" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 8/7).
FRUIT-BEARING TREE? In Orlando, Richard Bilbao noted Florida Citrus Sports, the primary tenant of the Florida Citrus Bowl, yesterday "made its request to Orange County leaders" for an additional $12M in tourist tax dollars for an $18M planned addition to the stadium. The expansion was part of the overall plan that would "add more club seats and suites and improve the stadium’s competitiveness in attracting events." Florida Citrus Sports CEO Steve Hogan "updated the county on the stadium's plans at the meeting, which included installing up to 5,000 new club seats and 25 suites." County officials "voiced their support for the Citrus Bowl renovations at the meeting, but they did not take a formal vote" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 8/6).
NO MAGIC ACT: In Orlando, Mark Schlueb reported negotiations between City Hall and Magic execs over a proposed $100M sports-and-entertainment district across the street from the Amway Center "are lagging." City of Orlando CFO Rebecca Sutton said that closed-door negotiations are "taking longer than expected," but that she "expects a proposed agreement to be ready for city commissioners to look over in the next couple months" (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 8/2).