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Orange County Commissioners OK Funding for Soccer Stadium

October 22nd, 2013 | WMFE- Orange County Commissioners have approved a $94.5 million funding deal for community venues that includes $20 million in tax revenues to help build a new soccer stadium in downtown Orlando. The new stadium is a key part of the Orlando City Soccer Club's bid to be awarded a major league soccer franchise.

Commissioners voted 5-2 in favor of the funding deal on Tuesday evening, after more than four hours of public comment and discussion. 

Supporters of the soccer stadium proposal had crowded into the Orange County Commission chambers in downtown Orlando from early Tuesday afternoon. 

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and state Senator Geraldine Thompson, whose district includes west Orange County, spoke in support of the stadium.

Commissioners also considered testimony from members of the public, many who cheered the economic benefits of major league soccer in Orlando.

"Orlando already is an international destination hotbed, and the world sport is soccer," said Chase Forth, who wore a purple Orlando City Soccer Club jersey.

"This just makes sense," he added. 

But local activist Mike Cantone worried about the stadium's impact on Parramore.

"After over $600 million being already invested in downtown venues, the average household income in Parramore has dropped to below the poverty line," Cantone told the commissioners. 

The deal makes $20 million in Tourist Development Tax revenue available to help pay for the $85 million stadium- with some conditions. 

Orlando City Soccer must be certified as a Major League team, the city has to host at least one all star game, and the club also has to put up $40 million towards building the stadium. 

The club will also be responsible for cost overruns in the construction of the stadium. 

Orlando City soccer club president Phil Rawlins said he was "ecstatic" about the vote. 

Rawlins said negotiations would get underway with Major League Soccer, and a franchise could be awarded to the club as early as November. 

Orlando would start playing in the major league in spring 2015. 

Other parts of the $94.5 million agreement include $12 million towards renovating the Citrus bowl and $25 million for the new performing arts center. 

Visit Orlando, also receives $25 million for tourism promotion. 

Orange County mayor Teresa Jacobs said each of the projects in the agreement will enhance the region's reputation as "an international mecca of diversity, sports, culture and entertainment."


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