Orlando all but set as 21st MLS franchise

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Things keep moving forward for Orlando, who keep aggressively driving efforts at establishing an MLS franchise there. A Tuesday night vote by the Orange County Commission can now be known as the tipping point.

The commission approved funds for a soccer specific stadium in downtown Orlando, voting ‘yes’ on $94.5 million package, which includes $20 million in tourism taxes for a 20,000-seat stadium.

This comes one day after MLS president Mark Abbott said a ‘yes’ vote on the stadium funding would clear the way for Orlando. So, barring unforeseen complications, Major League Soccer is returning to Florida, and Orlando will become the league’s 21st team.

(MLS is at 19 teams today; New York City FC, backed by money from the Premier League’s Manchester City, will be the 20th team.)

So when will it happen? Orlando officials have targeted 2015 all along the same year NYC FC comes aboard. Considering how efficiently the organization has checked off the stops so far, there no reason to think they cannot get there.

Total stadium costs are expected to land around $84 million, not far from what Houston spent for BBVA Compass Stadium, a swell and functional ground, but not one adorned with the bells and whistles of, say, Sporting Park in Kansas City. Total costs for that one ran about $200 million.