Orange County to vote on funding for new soccer stadium

Many Parramore residents voice concerns about project

Author: Amaka Ubaka, Reporter, aubaka@wkmg.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 12:16:28 PM EST   Updated On: Oct 22 2013 06:08:48 AM EDT
PARRAMORE, Fla. -

The countdown is on for Orange County to decide whether to spend money for a new soccer stadium in downtown Orlando.

Local 6 was at a NAACP meeting in Parramore Monday night as neighbors who live in the community discussed why they are against the stadium being built.

“The city hall doesn't want black people in Parramore,” said Elbert Dudley, a long time Parramore resident. “We have to say enough is enough. No new arenas, no soccer stadium, no more destruction of Parramore.”

About 40 people filled the meeting that NAACP members planned months ago, not knowing it would fall on the night before Orange County commissioners decide whether to partially fund a brand new $84 million stadium bringing major league soccer to the city.

“It's based around the dream we've had, this vision for over three years now,” says Orlando City Soccer President Phil Rawlins.

But that vision is what some residents of Parramore say is the problem. They fear big business is coming in, which is leaving local residents out.

“While we're building the buildings, we need to build the people,” said one NAACP member.

Leaders will vote to contribute $20 million in county tourist taxes for the stadium. If the stadium is built, supporters say it could bring in excess of $1 billion to Central Florida.

“Who benefits from the soccer field, just like who benefited from the Amway arena? Did any of the people here get jobs?” asked NAACP executive board member Larry Colleton.

But not everyone is against the new stadium.

“When I look at it, I see more positives than negatives,” Jack Williams Jr. told Local 6. “If you want to progress, accept change and let the past go.”

The Orange County branch of the NAACP says they won't be taking a formal position on whether they are for or against the stadium for a couple of weeks, but they will be at Tuesday's meeting.

To pass the stadium project, five of the seven commissioners must agree to fund it. So far, Rawlins told Local 6, they are confident they have four of the votes. Commissioner Fred Brummer has said he won't vote for the stadium, leaving two votes up for grabs.