Orange County, Orlando mayor agree to fund downtown soccer stadium

Club awaits final vote on plan, expected to come at later date

By Erik Sandoval - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs announced an agreement on a plan that would fund a new soccer arena near downtown Orlando -- a signal to Major League Soccer that the city is ready to play ball.

Before the Orange County Tourism Development Council on Friday, Orlando City Soccer President Phil Rawlins used a new video presentation, showing how much money local businesses and the county could make off a pro-team.

Rawlins needs $20 million from Orange County -- the only obstacle between him and Major League Soccer.

The full panel of Orange County Commissioners must give the ultimate approval.

"We are delighted to have the support of the tourism industry and the TDC," said Rawlins after the meeting. "We look forward to working with the Board of Commissioners over the next few weeks as we make this thing a reality."


The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts also used video to showcase a completed facility, which would include a world-class performance hall and an arts school.

To get that completed, Dr. Phillips is asking the county for $25 million.

Finally, the Florida Citrus Bowl asked for $12 million to finish out its renovation. It's wanting to build out new luxury boxes and expand the press room in order to attract more bowls.

The Orange County Commissioners will get the "green light" recommendations from the tourism council at its next meeting, at which time another public hearing will be held and the much-awaited final vote will take place.

"Orlando nets a big goal," said Dyer. "With the addition of soccer, we're marrying the world's most popular game with the number one tourist destination."

"We're one of the few communities in the country that can build outstanding facilities," said Jacobs. "We are excited to be able to potentially bring a Major League Soccer franchise to Orange County."

The total cost of the multi-use stadium is an estimated $85 million.

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