MLS Expansion: Orlando Gets Stadium Funding

MLS Expansion: Orlando Gets Stadium Funding

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On October 23, 2013
  • 2015 MLS Expansion, Features, MLS Expansion, Orlando Expansion
Orlando fans get their wish, a new stadium and likely a new MLS team. (Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports)

Orlando fans get their wish, a new stadium and likely a new MLS team. (Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports)

Orlando is inches away from crossing the goal line and becoming a new Major League Soccer expansion club.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Orange County Board of Commissioners voted through the approval of funds for a new multi-purpose soccer stadium for Orlando City SC. Per a release from the club, with the funding plan now complete, Orlando City executives will now enter into final negotiations with MLS to bring a franchise to Orlando.

There was some last minute haggling as the vote approached. As a result, the club consented to increase funding for public soccer fields by $500,000 and Orlando’s mayor, John “Buddy” Dyer, even agreed to hand over some city parkland to the county free of charge to facilitate field construction.

The measure passed by a 5-2 count, which was the minimum margin required. The commissioners were voting on a package that would funnel $94.5 million in tourist tax dollars toward the soccer stadium ($20 million), improvements to the Citrus Bowl (where City currently plays), a new performing arts center and other initiatives.

The club, owned by Brazilian entrepreneur Flávio Augusto da Silva and Rawlins, an English investor, will put $40 million toward the stadium. The city of Orlando will chip in $20 million and the rest will come from other neighboring jurisdictions. Da Silva and Rawlins also will be on the hook for the MLS expansion fee, which is a reported $70 million.

Next stop for this group is indeed MLS. The league stated earlier this week that they would move quickly on getting a deal worked out once the stadium funding was approved by the OCBC. Now that it is done, my sources tell me that we are two to four weeks away from hearing a formal announcement for expansion in Orlando.

The new team will begin in 2015, along with New York City FC.  Orlando will be the first of several new MLS teams in the Southeast. Miami and Atlanta are also possible new MLS markets as the league expands to 24 teams by 2020.

  • P1s for Soccer Talk

    It was really cool watching the public comments at the hearing from people talking about how great and fun and popular and beneficial having a new stadium and an MLS franchise will be. Good job, Orlando!