Orlando not evicting church to make way for soccer stadium after all

The city of Orlando has dropped its eminent-domain suit against a church that stood in the way of its planned Orlando City Soccer Club stadium, and has instead bought a neighboring parcel that will allow the stadium to be shifted one block west. So yay for Faith Deliverance Temple, which doesn’t have to move, and for the city of Orlando, which saves at least $2 million by buying a cheaper piece of property, and for Orlando City (the team), which can now open its new stadium by 2016 at least, maybe.

(The city and county will still be on the hook for $40 million, and the state for another $30 million that was approved in May. But hey, every couple of million counts.)

27 comments on “Orlando not evicting church to make way for soccer stadium after all

  1. Orlando City fans who actively rooted for the church to be dispossessed and torn down must be so proud. Easy to cry foul about the church fighting back when it’s not THEIR own property being taken away from them.

    What really went over everybody’s head throughout this whole saga is that the church had no intention of moving in the first place, regardless of the money involved. There was an excellent ESPN Mag article about Mina Kimes about the standoff between the two sides, in which the church leaders maintained that they simply wanted to stay put and be left alone.

    (As a side note, it’s telling that a national media conglomerate, which could have covered any one of the countless other stories in the sports world, gave more of a voice to the church than ANY of the Orlando-based media outlets ever did throughout the ordeal.)

    I think the city ultimately realized that it didn’t have a bulletproof case for transferring private property from one owner to another (which, btw just so happened to be wealthy enough to own a sports team), and that continuing to pursue an ED claim in the name of a soccer stadium would have been awful PR.

  2. Glad city didn’t follow through, however the church I heard did counter offer. If you counter offer you are willing to move.

  3. Steven: We can read into the counteroffer any way we’d like. I personally saw the initial $35m offer as the church’s way of saying it had no intention of seriously negotiating a move out of their property.

    Which, considering the way our teams so often conspire with their home cities to hold its residents hostage, is fair game, as far as I’m concerned.

  4. Actually, Kei, the negotiations went as follows: city offered the church $1.5 million (more than twice the appraised value), church demands $35 million based in part on city’s pre-meltdown purchase on property for the new Center for the Performing Arts, city countered with $4 million, and the church responded with a $15 million demand. Make no mistake, the church was willing to sell but they overplayed their hand. Am I happy that the church’s attempt to bilk taxpayer money failed? Absolutely. Am I happy Orlando City FC’s attempt to bilk taxpayer money succeeded? No. But we can all agree that attending a soccer game is more beneficial to society than attending a sermon that demonizes homosexuals and brainwashes children into believing the earth is 6k years old.

  5. Maybe the church set the figures sky-high because guessed (correctly) that the city of Orlando wouldn’t call their bluff?

    I’m relieved as an Orlando resident that the city didn’t pay up, and that even more money won’t be thrown into this project. But pointing the finger squarely on the church seems pretty short-sighted, as if the city shouldn’t be blamed at all for trying to force them out in order to build a stadium, on our dime, for a big-time sports owner.

    Nice sneaky attack on the church itself, by the way.

  6. I wonder how much taxes that church will pay on $20 per car parking fee, when Bilking real tax paying fans who attend the stadium.

  7. Faith Deliverance Temple’s offers of 35M and 15M, respectively, indicate their intent to sell (they based their demands on past city land purchases). If they really wanted to stay put, they would have simply told the city to screw off, but they instead entered into negotiations. I think most would agree these Kelo-type eminent domain lawsuits are inherently wrong and the city’s land grab was improper. Ultimately, the soccer club, the city, and the church all look bad in this deal, only the church is now in a PR campaign trying to convince people they beat goliath in the battle of good and evil. Billionaire sports owners and the church are brothers in arms when it comes to fleecing, not only the disinterested public, but also their fans/flock. And my attack on the church was not at all sneaky. It was unmistakable and obvious.

  8. Lol…..Hallelujah !…. And the truth will set you free……money is the root of all evil…….practice what you preach.

  9. For those that in the past few days have greedily indulged in the exercise of guessing what’s in the mind of their neighbors without knowing them, you are very wrong and tiresome.

    The congregants of this church simply did not want to move when approached, period. Money was never of their interest but they placed bids to counter the City of Orlando’s maneuvers because they did not know how else to defend themselves until seeking legal counsel.
    I know this because I have attended their church services for a couple months now. I’ve made it a point to get to know these people right after I volunteer at the Coalition for the Homeless across in Central Boulevard. And I’ve even taken the time to learn what they actually do and preach inside of that church, which is not even of my denomination.

    -To dare place comments about that church and the people that attend it in this sports website is vile and low- just as you have shown yourself to be as a person.

    Next time you feel you know better how to conduct business in Parramore then please come on down and make a difference in the community. Set-up volunteer legal classes so that mom-and-pop shops learn how to conduct business with the city the way you think they should. Because -of course- the residents of Parramore have had a historied background of communal benefit in Orlando, right? Why would they otherwise still exist a street east of that church named ‘Division Street’?

  10. I checked out the church’s website, it didn’t seem overtly political. But that shouldn’t matter anyway, it is their right not to sell and Eminent Domain is not appropriate here, this is not essential infrastructure. Hopefully they and the soccer club and it’s fans can be good neighbors, and good for them if they make some money from parking.

  11. Not deleting anything, but just would like to remind everyone of the rule against personal attacks against other commenters. Thanks.

    I actually looked for a website with more info on the church, but couldn’t find one. (I think the one that comes up via Google is actually in Georgia.) Not that the church’s political stances or lack thereof should have anything to do with its legal rights, obviously.

  12. Lol…. Facts are facts…..they set up volunteer legal services, but fail to get legal advice when negotiating with politicians. Thou shall not lie.

  13. Steven: Soccer teams and their backers can do no wrong, can they?

    Worth noting too, that the folks I talked to in the Parramore area — wow imagine that, getting firsthand takes on the situation at hand — still harbored resentment over the Amway Center deal, a much costlier venture for the city of Orlando, and one in which the area residents are still waiting to see any sort of positive impact. It’s hard to imagine this new stadium being a silver bullet that solves all that ails the neighborhood.

    Although, if we’re all being real here, no stadium or arena is built to improve the lives of those who make their homes around them, anyway.

  14. @ Neil, the church is not telling truth. If comments made by Sergio are correct. As for kei , not allowed to respond to others directly. In Chicago we have many of these neighborhood churches that are politically connected and the biggest hypocrites. Everybody including soccer fans are glad the city didn’t follow through.

  15. What would Jesus do ? Jesus wouldn’t counter offer, Jesus would let the people park for free, Ha Ha.

  16. You’re allowed to respond directly to other commenters’ arguments. You’re just not allowed to call them names.

  17. Lol…. Neil… the church declared that it didn’t want to make way for another white elephant of a sports venue that make little impact, if any, on the lives of people who live around the area …….. clearly they’re the bad guys here .

  18. Kei i’m sorry but you’re wrong about the stadium making little to no impact. Orlando City is committed to cleaning up the neighborhood and have actually been active in Parramore for a while now. They’re even forming a committee of parramore leaders to help incorporate cultural aspects of the area into the stadium. not only that but they volunteer, and hold free youth soccer camps for the kids in parramore. Orlando city is definitely not “the bad guys”.

  19. I’ll believe that when I see it with my own two eyes. For what it’s worth, the Magic promised the same things before the Amway Center was built, and there were a fair few area residents who told me that they’ve not set foot inside the arena to this day. Maybe OC will be different. But I’d be surprised if I find that they truly are.

    Of course, given that they’re using public subsidies for the construction of their new stadium, I think they owe it to the community to make some token gestures in return, at the very least.

  20. OC is good at keeping promises. I think they’ll do a good job with the community, and hopefully will turn Parramore into a better place.

  21. Quoting from this comment: “…a sports venue that make little impact, if any, on the lives of people who live around the area…”

    I read that sentence and it was crystal-clear to me; negating it is just fallacious. First, Parramore is a community- it does not need “cleaning up”; that statement right there is condescending to any purpose you may have with said community. What Parramore needs is an opportunity for economic partnership and an opportunity of revitalization by its own citizens, something the City has denied them for a great number of decades. Donating furniture or freezers and healthy foods does not cut it unless you are portending to be caretakers to the residents of the community during the lifetime of that stadium. And incorporating “cultural aspects” is not the same as getting down to brass tacks with Sen. Thompson (for example) and working out a long term program of economic integration with that community.

    The only betterment that stadium has to offer at this time is to shield the Mayor’s mismanagement of that area and the City budget that has grown into a $52 m deficit with a $115.7 million debt to the Sunshine State Government Financing Commission that was incurred during the Venues Agreement voted for in 2012 and will come up soon- never mind the way the Mayor spends without care of cost to appease the team:


    Maybe we should all heed what this guy had to say about what happens to promises of progress in the Parramore area:


  22. Brooks: To me, linking their contributions to the new stadium kinda gives off the impression that the only reason they (and the Magic, for that matter) even have any dealings with Parramore at all is because they decided to plop their venues in that area. Otherwise, they’re just fulfilling their contractual obligations while getting good PR for them. That’s a cynical view, to be sure, but you can see why the area residents would feel the way they do, especially when they’ve heard so many white lies and broken promises from the city.

    As Floridiana said, incorporating “cultural aspects” of the neighborhood into the stadium is one thing, but actually incorporating the neighborhood into the greater city itself is a whole different thing. Is it unfair to expect OC to help achieve that goal, especially when it might not even be a priority for the city government? Perhaps so, but we should certainly expect (and even demand) they live up to their billing as a community partner.

  23. @Floridiano, obviously you are not familiar with this website, nobody here believes the stadium will be a solid economic driver for the area.

    And if the reporting is true:
    ““Faith Deliverance Temple continues to negotiate with the city in good faith hoping this will come to an amicable end…” said Jonathan Williams, son of the church’s founders. Church members based their asking price, in part, on how much it cost to acquire a piece of First United Methodist Church’s downtown campus in 2007 so the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts could be built. The arts center paid the church $28.3 million in cash, land, a replacement building and parking, and the city agreed to realign a portion of South Street for the church’s benefit, bringing the total cost to about $35 million. Dyer said the family made it clear for the first time this summer that they wanted to stay put.”

    …then its congregants are being lied to by the small family poised to exclusively enjoy the taxpayer funded financial windfall.

    More importantly, from the Washington Post:
    “When people donate to religious groups, it’s tax-deductible. Churches don’t pay property taxes on their land or buildings. When they buy stuff, they don’t pay sales taxes. When they sell stuff at a profit, they don’t pay capital gains tax. If they spend less than they take in, they don’t pay corporate income taxes. Priests, ministers, rabbis and the like get “parsonage exemptions” that let them deduct mortgage payments, rent and other living expenses when they’re doing their income taxes. They also are the only group allowed to opt out of Social Security taxes (and benefits).”

    So many subsidies, sound familiar? Neil, if you’re looking to generate a good conversation (or hits for that matter) just compare the subsidies of the two entertainment juggernauts of sports and religious orgs. It seems the people on both sides of the Orlando City argument are more similar than they’d like to believe.

  24. “…obviously you are not familiar with this website…” – Who do you think has been corresponding since last year to Mr. DeMause and two other reporters about this matter?

    From a correspondence sent to me by the attorneys of this case:

    “[dropping the case]…It is good news and the church members are very happy. The hearing scheduled today has been cancelled and the Judge notified that the case is/has been dismissed. We did coordinate a final follow up interview with Lori Brown today which I believe Channel 9 will air during this evening’s 5:30/6:00 news.
    Thank you to you, your wife, and xxxx for your support and friendship toward the members of Faith Deliverance. We hope that the City’s decision will allow them to remain where they are and continue to be a beacon of light and hope, as you and the Coalition for the Homeless are, in the Parramore community.”

    So I will talk tonight to the younger Williams about this and post if indeed there is a difference between what has been said and this week, OK?

  25. … without wishing to make an already contentious discussion even worse…

    I would simply point out that making a ‘ridiculous’ counter offer isn’t necessarily an announcement of intent to sell. When dealing with potential expropriation or eminent domain cases, the present owner of a property is often better served to appear willing to sell and declaring a high actual value (plus cost to acquire a new site and relocate/rebuild etc) than they are by refusing to discuss the matter. The latter is often a bad tactic, as the courts tend to view the present owner as hostile and determined to prevent the intended development.

    As someone suggested earlier, naming a very high price can be a defensive strategy, not necessarily and offensive one.

    And for the believers in the group, isn’t it somewhat ironic that a church becomes the target of eminent domain actions? I mean, if you do believe in a higher power, exactly who’s domain is in question here…