ORLANDO, Fla. - The city of Orlando gave the final OK to fund a proposed soccer stadium, in hopes of ultimately bringing a Major League Soccer team and a boost in international tourism.
Right now, the Orlando City Soccer Lions play at the Florida Citrus Bowl, but the team would move to a new stadium, near the Amway Center, that seats around 18,000 fans. The proposed stadium would cost about $85 million with tourism tax dollars.
Supporters, including Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, argue a new soccer stadium would make Orlando even more of an international destination. The ultimate goal is to seal a deal with Major League Soccer to have a professional team in the area.
Orlando would help fund $20 million of the project with tourism tax dollars. Orange County Commissioners will have to agree to the same. Seminole County has also agreed to pitch in $2,000,000 because commissioners believe the neighboring county would benefit from the new traffic of business.
Critics say taxpayers shouldn't help foot the bill.
The proposed stadium has garnered attention, with more than 15,000 people signing a petition. In September, the Lions won the USL PRO Championship against Charlotte in front of a record crowd of 20,000 fans.
Orange County commissioners will vote on a funding plan on October 22.
After the city and county approve a plan, Orlando would be able to enter into final negotiations with MLS for an expansion team.