Big Day for Orlando

orlandoFor fans excited about the possibility of Major League Soccer in Orlando, Tuesday is an enormous day.  Officials in Orange County will vote whether to direct $20 million in taxes towards the construction of a soccer specific stadium in Orlando for a new MLS franchise.  The deal has already been approved by City Commissioners, but County approval is also required.  MLS has announced that if the deal is approved, the franchise will be awarded to Orlando as the 21st franchise.    According to an interview conducted by the Orlando Sentinel with MLS President Mark Abbott, “What fans want is to be able to come to a first-class facility,” Abbott said. “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.”Orlando City president Phil Rawlins previously told the Sentinel he expected it would take 30 days to work out a franchise agreement if the stadium funding was approved.”

Orlando has been moving aggressively towards an MLS franchise for quite some time.  The City (through Disney) has been successfully hosting the Pro Soccer Challenge for a number of years.  Per the Orlando Sentinel, The $94.5 million agreement approved by a 7-0 vote of the Orlando City Council also includes another $25 million in tourist tax funding for the Dr. Phllips Performing Arts Center, $12 million for the Citrus Bowl; $27.5 million for tourism ads; and $10 million for improvements to the Orange County Convention Center.

As we have previously stated, this seems like a perfect market for MLS.  Big population underserved by the sports world, with a young population.  One possible sticking point is the proximity to Miami.  With an expansion team possible destined for Southbeach, there could be 2 MLS sides within 3 hours of each other.