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.