Orlando mayor says soccer stadium approved two years ago won’t happen unless state kicks in $30m more

Back when the city of Orlando and Orange County approved $40 million in subsidies for Orlando City S.C. in 2013, it was supposed to be enough to cover the cost of an $85 million soccer stadium, with plans to add more bells and whistles — more luxury seating, a second “executive club,” and more advertising boards — if $30 million in additional state tax breaks came through. Now, though, with site prep for the stadium still in the early stages, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer is suddenly saying the state sales tax rebate is “integral” to the project, and without it … something. Something bad.

You can’t really blame Dyer, since it’s not his money that’s at stake here — I mean, it is his citizens’ money, since they’re Florida taxpayers, but it doesn’t come out of his budget — so it makes sense for him to pull out all the stops to lean on the state legislature to approve the cash. One would hope that state legislators would instead look at the facts that past state sports subsidies have only returned 30 cents on the dollar and that the Orlando project is only promising to create 60 jobs and politely decline Dyer’s demands, but this is Florida, so probably not.

4 comments on “Orlando mayor says soccer stadium approved two years ago won’t happen unless state kicks in $30m more

  1. LOLZ. They’ve long cleared the space needed for the stadium, including the retention pond that had to be filled in after the city backed down on their eminent domain threat against the church. So what happens if the state decides against providing additional funds to the project (which, btw, I can almost guarantee they will pump more money into the project)? What are the city and the team gonna do, take their ball and go back to Citrus Bowl if they don’t get their way?

    Welcome to the Buddy Dyer experience, y’all.

  2. Kei,

    If this falls through it will be very embarrassing for City Hall, the County, and Orlando City. They’ll probably go with the $85 million structure and try to upgrade after a year or two.

    That being said, that area was marked to be leveled, stadium or not. That park with the retention pond was a breeding ground for crime, and police couldn’t handle it any longer.

  3. Joe: Even so, the possibility that the city could let the site lay fallow because of a $30m “shortage” in public funds, after bending over backwards to secure the site in the first place, seems prima facie absurd.

    The more likely case, as you said, is that should the state funds not come through, then the city (and OCSC) will just build a more “stripped down” version of the stadium, then ask the state for more handouts again at a later time. Or the owners miraculously find $30m floating around in their bank account somewhere, and decide to throw it at the project. Highly doubt that’ll happen, though.

  4. It’s pretty clear that demanding more money was part of the original plan. Looking over all the recent soccer-specific stadiums (Denver, KC, etc.) the going rate is $100 million plus. They must have known the minute the $85 million was approved that they’d be short of what they wanted. And demanding the money before the stadium is built or trying to pass it off as a cost overrun is an easier sell than asking to renovate a place that is only a couple years old.

    But, hey, a whole 60 jobs for ~$100 million!? And probably at least a couple of those will be above minimum wage!