Special session key for Orlando City SC stadium

New Orlando City stadium

A potential June special session of the Florida Legislature could yield the $30 million local political leaders want to see spent on a new Orlando City SC stadium, but as is always the case with Florida politics, nothing is assured.

Right now the construction of a new Parramore-area Orlando City SC stadium is slowed while politicos decide whether $30 million will be granted by the state in the form of sales-tax rebates. That will make the difference between an $85-million stadium (an amount already in hand from the MLS team and the city) and a $115-million stadium. The current plan is based on the $115 million figure; the project will need to be scaled back if the state money doesn’t materialize. And given the unpredictable state of Florida politics, it’s hard to say for certain whether the spending on sports facilities in the name of economic development will take place when much larger battles, like Medicaid spending, will dominate a June special section. From the Orlando Sentinel:

“We’re in something of a holding pattern because we’re waiting on the state to come through with the commitment of the sales tax refund,” said Orlando City President Phil Rawlins. “So that’s where we sit right now. We know [the] special session comes up at the beginning of June and we feel very confident that if the politicians involved look at our track record. . . . Look at the facts and figures behind the economic development that we’ve enabled, then this is really a no-brainer to put this through the House and put it through the Senate and give us funds to finish the stadium off to the quality and the level that we know we need.”…

Rawlins said Orlando City leaders aren’t focused on contingency plans, including private fund-raising for the remaining $30 million, if the Legislature doesn’t hand over the stadium funds.

“We haven’t looked deeply into the mechanisms,” he said. “We’re really, really focused on achieving our goals with the state quite frankly because that money has already been appropriated for the 2014 budget. So it’s there. We’re not asking them to put new money aside for this, it’s money they’ve already appropriated a year ago. And so it’s really down to them to not shirk their responsibility on this and actually come through on the commitment they’ve made already. And that’s really what we’ve 100 percent focused our effort on because the money is there set on the side.”

Orlando City SC has proven to be an amazing success this season, averaging 37,446 fans per game in the Citrus Bowl. That’s good for second in MLS attendance; the Seattle Sounders are averaging 40,067 fans per game after four home matches.

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August Publications