As expected, the Orange County Commission voted 5-2 in favor of spending tourist tax money on a new MLS soccer stadium yesterday, with former project foe Pete Clarke casting the deciding vote. Clarke didn’t get the promise he was seeking that the Orlando City Soccer Club would share profits with the county in exchange for $20 million in subsidies, but instead settled for the team kicking in $200,000 a year for 15 years to the county parks budget, though even that reportedly hasn’t been finalized.
With the city of Orlando having already approved the plan, this pretty much cements it in stone: The Orlando City Lions will likely become MLS’s 21st team either in 2015 or 2016, under league commissioner Don Garber’s “let a thousand soccer teams bloom” program. The new $94 million stadium — to be built near the Magic‘s Amway Center in the mostly poor, mostly African-American downtown neighborhood of Parramore — would be paid for roughly half by the team and half by the public: OCSC has committed to $30 million up front plus rent payments to cover $10 million in bonds, Orange County and the city of Orlando have each approved $20 million in tax money, and the other $14 million will apparently be paid off by everyone throwing their money on the table and leaving before the waiter has a chance to add up the bill.
The benefits of the stadium will be anything but halfsies, though: The team will get all revenues from soccer games (which will be the main use of the place, since it’s a soccer stadium), plus half of advertising board fees for non-soccer events; the county, despite owning the building, will be left with whatever it can get from renting the place out for concerts and the like. It all makes you wish that somebody had suggested a larger cut of the proceeds for the public in exchange for kicking in half the funding … oh, right.