Florida has long been one of the most generous states in terms of stadium subsidies, offering $2 million a year in subsidies to pretty much any major-league team that says it needs them to build a new stadium. “Major league” is here defined as MLB, NFL, NBA, or NHL, though, so state senator David Simmons has proposed adding MLS to the list, making major-league soccer teams eligible to put as much as $30 million or so in stadium costs on the public tab.
Simmons is from the Orlando area, and it’s fair to assume he’s carrying water here for the Orlando City Soccer Club, a minor-league team that’s hoping to get a new stadium and move up to MLS, only without, you know, having to actually pay for all of it. His bill would allow up to two MLS teams to receive funds, though, so presumably the Tampa Bay F.C. people could get involved as well.
Which would only be fair, since everybody else in the entire state of Florida with claims to being a pro sport is already looking to get some state money:
The help for a future Orlando soccer team comes in addition to a request by the Miami Dolphins NFL team for help with stadium renovations, and the speaker of the House said Wednesday that he expects other bills to be filed to provide help for renovations to Daytona Beach International Speedway and for the Jacksonville Jaguars to make renovations at EverBank Field.
Florida is actually projecting a state budget surplus this year, mostly because it cut so much in past years that there’s some extra money now that the local economy doesn’t totally suck, so it looks like everybody is figuring that it’s time to strike while the iron is hot to grab a piece for themselves. There’s no telling whether all of this bills will pass, but given Florida’s past history in such matters, I wouldn’t bet against it.