Orlando Politician Accuses MLS Of Hypocrisy With Soccer-Specific Stadium Requirement
Orange County (Fla.) Commissioner Ted Edwards "has an issue" with MLS awarding Atlanta a franchise that will play in the Falcons' new $1B stadium despite Orlando City SC being required to build a new soccer-specific stadium and "playing at the renovated Citrus Bowl was not an option," according to Orlando-based WFTV.com. Edwards said, "They can't tell us this is the only way we can do it if they're not going to do it in other cities." Edwards in a memo to Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs requested that commissioners "revisit the stadium issue during their meeting on May 6" (WFTV.com, 4/22). Jacobs and Orlando Venues Exec Dir Allen Johnson said that officials and architects "explored the idea of accommodating soccer" as part of the $207M Citrus Bowl renovation. Johnson said that they "looked at adding a retractable-roof system that would fan out over the lower bowl during soccer games but leave the stadium open to the sky during college football bowl games and other events." Johnson: "It was an extremely expensive proposal, probably close to $100 million, as I recall. We were told it would be cheaper to build a soccer-specific stadium than it would be to try to retrofit the Citrus Bowl" Orlando City SC "plans to break ground this year on a 20,000-seat, soccer-centric stadium" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 4/23).