The city of Orlando has agreed to sell 12 acres of land to Orlando City S.C. for its new soccer stadium at a price of $18 million. Is that a fair deal? I’m going to indulge myself now by answering in a manner that I pretty much never have in almost 18 years of running this site:
Who the heck cares?
I’m sure that given enough time and data on land values in Orlando, I (or someone else) could pick apart fair market value for the city property that will now be turned over to the soccer club. (Not to mention the $11 million the city has spent on cleanup and site prep, and whether that’s typical or a special consideration for a project like this.) But for now, let’s just enjoy for a moment that a professional sports franchise is actually agreeing to pay to build its new stadium, and pay (something) for the land to build it on, and pay property taxes on the stadium once it’s complete — you know, like regular people do when they own property. It shouldn’t be remarkable, but it is, and we should bookmark it as an example that things can sometimes be different.
Why this happened in Orlando is complex — part city government that was resistant to coughing up public money, part rich foreign owners who just wanted to get a team in place and didn’t care much about dickering over a few tens of millions in subsidies — and not necessarily easily transferrable to other cities. But even a glimpse at a possible future where new sports stadiums are treated like private investments, not public necessities so that private owners can earn more profits, is enough for me, for today at least.