New lawsuit says selling soccer stadium land to Orlando City Soccer Club is illegal

ORLANDO, Fla. – At about the same time as Orlando City Hall was giving Orlando City Soccer President Phil Rawlins a standing ovation, a lawsuit was being walked into Orange County Courthouse seeking to stop the city's sale of soccer stadium land to the team.

[WEB EXTRA: Read full lawsuit ]

The deal which was approved by the Orlando City Commission on Monday, allows the soccer team to purchase the nearly 12-acre site for just more than $2 million.

"You need to tell me why this is such a great thing -- that it's okay for a government to violate the law," said Lawanna Gelzer, one of the local residents who signed on to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims that since the city of Orlando used eminent domain to acquire the land, it needed to follow certain steps before selling it.

They claim in the lawsuit the city owned the property less than 10 years, the city didn't allow the original owners to repurchase their land and the city did not open up bidding for the land.

The residents say in the lawsuit, "... there will be irreparable injury to the residents and businesses. It would be an unjust sale and misuse of eminent domain."

Construction on the land is already well underway, and this afternoon, News 6 found out the construction is not coming along without problems.

There are delays, and now, local businesses are starting to feel pinch of closed streets.

"Because of the construction in the area, many of the businesses haven't been able to get foot traffic or traffic going by," said Orlando City Commissioner Reginna Hill.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer's office tells News 6 they have not been served with the lawsuit yet, but after looking at a copy of it, they said the lawsuit has no merit using the statute cited.

A judge will eventually decide if that's true.

The judge can either decide the city's actions were in violation of the law, or the statute does not apply, and clear the way for the sale to Orlando City Soccer to go through.

About the Author:

Erik Sandoval joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2013 and became an Investigator in 2020. During his time at News 6, Erik has covered several major stories, including the 2016 Presidential campaign. He was also one of the first reporters live on the air at the Pulse Nightclub shooting.