State funding for a new Orlando City SC stadium is at hand, but a debate over limited resources for Florida sports facilities is delaying a final decision.
The situation is this: when putting together the financial plan for a new Orlando City SC stadium in the Parramore neighborhood, Orlando officials factored in a yearly payment from the state through a program designed to fund sports facilities. Applications were solicited, and state officials were tasked with ranking the proposals. To make a long story short: state legislators allocated $7 million toward the sports facilities instead of the expected $9 million, which means the proposal ranking take on additional importance. The request from Orlando for the new stadium is for $2 million, but is expected to end up being $60 million over 30 years.
In terms of rankings, the Orlando City FC proposal came out on top because funding was sought for a new project, not a renovation like the other applicants — Jacksonville’s EverBank Stadium, Daytona International Speedway, Miami’s Sun Life Stadium. Still, Florida being Florida, the politics are all convoluted. From the Orlando Sentinel:
The money could still be tied up as House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, continues to squabble with a state agency over how to disburse tax money to eligible stadium renovation projects which are already underway or scheduled to begin soon. And other projects competing for the funds aren’t giving up the fight….
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer’s office cheered the ranking, saying it was unique among the proposals because it was a new stadium, rather than a renovation project.
“We are pleased with the rankings as we have followed the process the Legislature established and have always had confidence in the Orlando Major League Soccer project as we are the only project that is a new franchise, with a new building that is generating new revenue for the State,” Heather Fagan, Dyer’s deputy chief of staff, stated in an email.
The debate over state money isn’t expected to delay work on the new stadium, scheduled to open for the 2016 season. The team will play its inaugural 2015 season at the Citrus Bowl.