“Make the team share profits” commissioner reportedly backing down on Orlando soccer stadium opposition

The Orange County Commission is set to vote at 2 pm today on committing $20 million in county tourist taxes toward a new $94 million Orlando City S.C. soccer stadium, and some angry speculation from stadium boosters last week notwithstanding, it doesn’t look like commissioners are going to stand in its way. In particular, commissioner Pete Clarke, who first floated the idea that if the team wants public money, it should share its profits with the public, now seems willing to back down and just accept a handful of coins for community projects:

Clarke said Monday that he’s now “flexible” on the soccer funding, largely because the team appears ready to help fund Orange recreation programs.

In return for helping fund the stadium, Clarke had sought a more ambitious plan to capture a share of ownership revenues of any MLS team. But Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer shot that idea down, saying state law bars such deals.

On Monday, Clarke said if the team helped fund recreation programs, it would ease his concerns. One negotiation still unfolding on that front, Clarke said, was a team pledge of $2.5 million toward such programs over the next 10 years.

If I’m Orlando City S.C., I jump all over that deal — $2.5 million over 10 years is a tiny price to pay for $20 million in cash right now. Plus, once Orange County signs off on the deal, OCSC is set to collect another $20 million from the city of Orlando, which already approved its own $20 million in subsidies earlier this month, plus another few million from neighboring counties. The team would end up putting in just $40 million toward the stadium, three-quarters of it in cash, the rest in future rent payments.

Two other county commissioners, Fred Brummer and Ted Edwards, have also expressed qualms about the deal, but with three votes needed to block a five-member supermajority on the seven-member commission, Clarke is in a position to cast the deciding vote all by his lonesome. It’d be nice if he’d hold out for a bit more than $250,000 a year in kickbacks, but let’s not be too hard on the guy — after all, if he holds up this deal, Christian Bruey might tweet at him again.


9 comments on ““Make the team share profits” commissioner reportedly backing down on Orlando soccer stadium opposition

  1. What’s the breaking point for hotel/motel taxes (I seem to recall that’s where FLA’s tourist taxes are generated)? I avoid going to Houston at all costs now because of the taxes on hotel and rental cars. I realize businesses pay for a lot of this and they are less price sensitive when they are writing it off, but it’s still a cost that works its way on to the balance sheet and has to be covered by revenue someplace.

    Anyway, think in some markets I’ll start looking at alternative services that let you rent rooms at private residences. Arena subsidy taxes haven’t been extended to those yet, have they?

  2. Will the stadium be owned by the city/county? …and available for them to use for soccer matches and other things when OhSeeEffSee isn’t playing? That would at least be some additional benefit to the general public. The small-ish stadiums of the MLS are more right-sized for non-professional use than your average NFL stadium.

  3. Keith,
    I think (not 100% sure but I think) that the stadium would in fact be owned by the city/county. It would only make sense since they are contributing the lion’s share of the money towards its construction. There are already plans in place for other (non Orlando City) events to be held there, such as college/high school soccer and lacrosse games among other things. I do think the club owns the naming rights though, at least as long as they play there.

    I think the stadium COULD turn out to be beneficial to the city. The team owners have the money and the pull to bring in high level international soccer matches. The club president Phil Rawlins sits on the board of Stoke City, a English Premiere League team. They’ve already played an international friendly against Orlando City once. No doubt they would do so again. In addition to Stoke, they’ve been able to bring in various other high profile international clubs, such as Brazilian champions Fluminense. That was a hell of a match and the attendance figures were pretty high for that one. I think if the stadium does get built, the benefits will largely be of the non-tangible variety. All the economic impact/benefit numbers they’ve been pumping out lately are just guesswork at best. There are just too many variables (many of them beyond the club’s control) to predict the stadium’s economic impact with a great degree of certainty. Will those non-tangible benefits be enough to offset the cost? Who the hell knows? I’d kinda like to see it, but I won’t exactly burst into tears if it doesn’t happen.

  4. It looks like the city would get rental fees, concessions revenue and half of ad board fees for non-soccer events. I can’t tell whether this would apply to college soccer as well, or who would control who gets to play there.

    http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2013-09-27/business/os-soccer-stadium-deal-details-20130927_1_orlando-city-soccer-club-amway-center-soccer-games

    Anyone know which of the three opposing commissioners flipped to vote for the stadium? (Vote was 5-2.) Neither web nor Twitter seems to know.

  5. Keith: The city will “own” the stadium, but only in the same sense that they “own” the Amway Center; its main tenant (OCSC) will get a sweetheart lease for the building, and more than likely get a huge cut out of revenues generated by non-MLS events that will be held there.

    GogoZec: “Economic impact” numbers almost always represent a red herring in terms of getting a stadium built, especially on the public dime. Team owners don’t actually give a toss whether the city benefits from their venue or not; their sole objective is to get the venues built, the consequences to the city be damned.

    People act like this new venue is going to be used almost every day, between the MLS, non-soccer competitions, and outdoor concerts that are too small for the (soon-to-be renovated on the public dollar) Citrus Bowl, but I’m still skeptical about this. Pitting two similar-sized venue against each other, which will only be separated by a couple blocks, hardly seems like a workable situation. Maybe I’ll be proven wrong, though.

  6. I realize Tony Pulis is gone (and God help ‘Boro if they hire him) but I still don’t wish Stoke upon my enemies. Sure Hughes has them playing a little less dire, but Huth and Shawcross are total thugs.

    I imagine the four Americans on the roster might help with interest over here, but for most Premier League fans the possibility of a Stoke match isn’t terribly exciting.

  7. What’s the breaking point for hotel/motel taxes (I seem to recall that’s where FLA’s tourist taxes are generated)? I avoid going to Houston at all costs now because of the taxes on hotel and rental cars. I realize businesses pay for a lot of this and they are less price sensitive when they are writing it off, but it’s still a cost that works its way on to the balance sheet and has to be covered by revenue someplace.

    State law says you can only charge 6%. Orange County maxed that out 8 years ago.

  8. Michael,
    the Stoke City match couple of years ago was actually a pretty good game. Stoke won and played incredibly dirty for a friendly, but it was still a fun match to see. The Fluminense match earlier this year was amazing. It was a shootout and great fun to watch. I’m pretty sure Kaka will come play for City in 2015 and that should make for some pretty fun matches. In the meantime, I hope the team’s billionaire owner starts throwing all kinds of money at Dom Dwyer from Kansas City to get him to come play for us full time. That guy is a goal scoring machine and Kansas City basically has him warming the bench.

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