ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Pat Williams, as president and co-founder of Orlando City Baseball Dreamers, LLC, is expected to pitch a plan Wednesday to the Orange County Tourist Development Tax Citizen Advisory Task Force promising Orlando’s own MLB team and stadium.
Williams makes the effort nearly 40 years after helping bring the Orlando Magic into focus as the NBA team’s co-founder. What he’s got in mind this time is a $1.7 billion, 45,000-fan capacity baseball stadium that would be built on International Drive, just north of Aquatica.
“These are very, very interesting and tender times as we go before the Orange County commission requesting $975 million to build this unique ballpark that- nobody’s ever seen the likes of it. We would have to raise $700 million privately, and in the history of baseball that’s never been done,” Williams recently told News 6′s Justin Warmoth on “The Weekly.” “The mandate I got four years ago by Mayor Demings was ‘It’s got to be a state-of-the-art ballpark so that tourists would want to visit it even if there’s no ballgame,’ that’s why this price has gotten up to a billion seven, which is stunning, no ballpark’s ever cost that much, but it’s got to be state-of-the-art.”
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Hoping that close-to $1 billion comes from the county’s TDT tax dollars, Williams added he’s had to address misunderstandings of what those dollars are meant to be used for.
“This money is directed totally towards tourism issues. That means convention centers and sports facilities and promotion of tourism, it cannot be earmarked to the homeless and the highways and teachers’ salaries, I see that all the time, that doesn’t come from this money. It’s a state law, and so I want to make sure everybody understands we’re not taking money away from these needy causes, that’s not the case, and so we’ve got to convince that commission that by doing this you’re adding something brand new that would elevate Orlando,” Williams said. “It’s not doing repairs at the Citrus Bowl, it’s not adding some cleanup or whatever at the Amway Center, it’s not a new sports venue at UCF — I’ve seen all the requests, ours is the only one that takes our area and elevates it into an international thrust, I mean, big league baseball’s a big deal.”
The task force will meet at 9 a.m. at the County Administration Building on South Rosalind Avenue, according to a news release.
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