Orlando City SC latest team to evict church via eminent domain for stadium

Orlando City Soccer Club may have gotten its $20 million in public stadium money, but it hasn’t acquired the land it needs yet. So, naturally, it wants to evict a church to make way for its stadium, because that’s how things are done these days. And also naturally, now that the city can’t settle on a price for the church land (the city offered $1.5 million, Faith Deliverance Temple countered with $35 million), it plans to use its eminent domain powers to acquire it:

Jonathan Williams, son of the church’s founder, said city officials jumped the gun by ending negotiations and saying they had to settle it in court.

“If they want it, they’ll pay more for it than it’s actually worth. We used that [$35 million price] as a basis to start conversations,” Williams said. “I was shocked — I thought we were still in negotiations. There was a high ball and a low ball, so let’s work it out. They initiated the disconnect.”

Silly church founder’s son: There is no “high ball” and “low ball.” There is only  hardball.

7 comments on “Orlando City SC latest team to evict church via eminent domain for stadium

  1. And I thought ED was supposed to be used for the purposes of building highways, roads, transit centers, schools, libraries, hospitals, and other public goods this whole time. Silly me.

    Even Mike Bianchi, the de facto cheerleader of Orlando sports, thinks this is a little too rich for his blood, so what does that say about the city’s tactics?

  2. Nope. Since Kelo v the City of New London, the Supreme Court as long as they think it will increase county or city revenues. All they need is a study saying that the city revenues. So if they can find some study somewhere saying the city will get more money from a soccer stadium then for a church they’re free and clear.

    Note, it just has to intend to increase revenue. There is no requirement that it actually does increase revenue.

  3. Don’t see what the issue is, they’re just trading a Church to one version of God for a Church to Soccer. Seems like an even trade for the community.

  4. Considering churches don’t pay property taxes and don’t contribute sales taxes, it won’t be hard to meet the Kelo threshold, sadly…

  5. They certainly might be able to comply with Eminent Domain qualification requirements, but that does nothing to determine value.

    If could be that the church’s version of the value of the land and buildings is much closer to actual FMV. So… if the court finds that the city can acquire the site under force, it may still specify that the church needs to be paid a great deal more than the city wants to pay.

    As noted elsewhere, if any group is forced to sell but gets more than enough money to rebuild elsewhere, I think we can say it’s a win for them.

  6. This is a really stupid thing to do. A friend told me about this, and I told him what the deal was right off the bat. The church came out with a giant figure as a starting point. They see an opportunity to make a nice chunk of cash on some land and they’re going for it. I’m no fan of churches in general, but I don’t blame them for doing this. The city should’ve seen this coming, as well as the club.

    If the city uses ED to acquire the land, it will be very bad news for quite a lot of elected officials. Florida is still in the South, and the South is still deeply religious. Come election time, you don’t want to be known as the guy who evicted an entire church to build a soccer stadium. Orlando City should just offer the church like $10-$15 million and call it a day. Call it the cost of doing business. I’m sure they’ll find a way to get the state to reimburse them for it somehow haha. And besides, the club’s owner is a freaking billionaire. Even $35 million is a drop in the bucket for this guy. I’m calling it now. If the city uses ED to evict the church, heads are gonna roll come election time.