Orange County commissioners approve funding for soccer stadium

Stadium to be built near Amway Center in Orlando

ORLANDO, Fla. - Orange County Board of County Commissioners approved a venues package on Tuesday that could see a new soccer-specific stadium built near downtown Orlando.

The commissioners said it approved an ordinance Tuesday night for a $94.5 million venues package that supports performing arts, sports, recreation, tourism and commerce.

The 5-to-2 vote came after four hours of public comment and discussion with more than 100 speakers. Local 6's Amaka Ubaka reports Pete Clarke was the deciding vote, and Fred Brummer and Ted Edwards were the two "No" votes.

The vote included approval of the Third Amendment to the Orlando/Orange County Interlocal Agreement between the County, City of Orlando, and the Downtown Community Redevelopment Agency to provide funding for the various community venues.

The county said this allows the use of Tourist Development Tax funds, better known as resort or bed tax, for Phase II construction of the Dr. Phillips Center, upgrades to the Citrus Bowl and the construction of the soccer stadium.

Commissioners also agreed to approve the third addendum to the 2007 Tourism Promotion Agreement between Orange County and Visit Orlando, providing additional marketing and advertising funding in connection with the Central Florida Sports Commission that will help create a full roster of events targeting the non-peak tourism season, according to the county.

"Each of these projects makes fiscal and strategic sense," said Mayor Teresa Jacobs. "Each will propel diversified streams of visitors, and each will add to our reputation as an international mecca of diversity, sports, culture and entertainment."

Orlando City Soccer President Phil Rawlins spoke at the hearing earlier on Tuesday in hopes of securing the funding from the county.

"The time has come for the beautiful game in America...the time has come for soccer in Central Florida," he said. "The time has come for the Orlando City Lions. The time has come for us to work together to make history."

The stadium is required by Major League Soccer to even consider the city for one of four new franchises to be announced.

"This Interlocal Amendment is about providing jobs for our residents. It's about creating unparalleled sports and entertainment options for our residents and visitors," said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. "It's about strengthening the backbone of our region's economy, tourism, by attracting national and international events to Orlando and it's about bringing Major League Soccer to Orlando."

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