Orlando buys $8.2M parcel and unveils soccer stadium plans

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Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer has announced that the city has spent $8.2 million on an area of land to give to Orlando City Soccer Club to build a new soccer-specific stadium.

According to the report from WFTV Orlando, the total cost of the proposed stadium will be upwards of $110 million and ground breaking could begin as early as December 2013. The proposed stadium will be located a few blocks from Amway Center, home of the Orlando Magic, and approximately eight blocks from the Citrus Bowl, where Orlando City currently plays its home matches.

“I can tell you with certainty that is where we would like to construct the stadium,” Dyer said. “That’s the perfect location. We have the parking already associated with the other facilities in the downtown area.”

Despite records indicating that the land was purchased for more than four times its appraised value, Dyer was adamant that the city did not overpay. “It’s all within the appraisals,” said Dyer, who is hoping other commissioners, lawmakers and MLS will agree the site is worth his $8.2 million gamble.

For now the club is set to contribute $80-100 million to build the stadium and the city will provide the land while the county will likely kick in tourist development tax. Dyer is hoping, however, that the state will provide some funding as well. Currently, MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL teams can all get funding help for new stadiums. The state legislature is expected to decide on whether MLS will qualify for similar funding.

The next franchise that MLS awards will be the league’s 20th team. For years it was believed that franchise would be in New York City but with issues surrounding potential stadium sites in Flushing Meadows and Aqueduct Race Track, places like Miami and Orlando have moved to the front of the line. With Orlando’s land purchase, the city has taken the biggest (and perhaps riskiest) step in making their dream a reality.

Only time will tell when and if Dyer’s gamble pays off.