UPDATE: MLS Expansion in Orlando Contingent on Final Stadium Vote

UPDATE: The Orlando County Commissioners approved the $96 million requested to fund local tourist projects with a 5-2 vote following a series of presentations, speakers and public comments.  $20 million of the $96 million of tax payers’ money will be used to fund the soccer stadium in Parramore, FL for Orlando City Soccer Club.

When the floor opened for the public to address the Commissioners, the majority of the comments were overwhelmingly supportive of building the downtown stadium and embracing Orlando SC and MLS in the city.  However, local political activist Mike Cantone advised against building the stadium.  He explained there was little evidence to support the claim that constructing sports arenas bring profits to the local communities.  Cantone also noted the multimillion dollar losses MLS took in its first eight seasons, as well as the failure of MLS franchises in Tampa Bay and Miami.  Despite Cantone’s opinions, almost one hundred people spoke in support of the stadium and the club, each person speaking for no more than two minutes.  Public comments lasted more than three hours before the Commissioners voted in favor of the projects.

While there has been large amounts of speculation about which cities Major League Soccer will expand to, at least one city can cross itself off of this list.  USL PRO club Orlando City Soccer Club received a visit from MLS President Mark Abbott on Monday, the day before the city vote which will decide whether Orange County will appropriate local tax dollars to fund the new downtown stadium.

The Orlando City Council unanimously approved the stadium on October 7th.  The Orange County Commissioners will vote on the stadium today.  Abbott announced on Monday,

What fans want is to be able to come to a first-class facility.  They want it to be intimate so it allows great sight-lines for the sport, but they also want the same amenities that they’ll find at other professional venues….Once we finalize that [a soccer specific stadium], we will have a Major League Soccer team here.

Phil Rawlins, President of Orlando City SC, has stated previously that expansion would take only 30 days after the stadium is approved to come to an agreement to become the next MLS franchise.  Abbott lauded Orlando City SC efforts, explaining,

What their average attendance has been over the last couple of years and with what they did at that magnificent championship game, I think they’re a model team and we’re looking forward to having them in Major League Soccer.

For details of today’s vote by the Orange County Commissioners, click here. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 2pm ET at the Orange County Administration Building.

Reporting on the business side of the world's game.