On Tuesday, the Orange County Board of Commissioners voted through the approval of funds for a new downtown, multi-purpose, $85 million, 18,000-seat soccer stadium and now Orlando City SC executives will enter into final negotiations with Major League Soccer (MLS) for an Orlando, Fla. expansion franchise.
The Lions would begin play in MLS in Spring 2015.
“We thank the Orange County and City of Orlando Board of Commissioners for their support to build a soccer-specific stadium in downtown Orlando’” said MLS President and Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott. “We also would like to thank Flavio Augusto da Silva, Phil Rawlins and their staff for their passion and commitment to bring a Major League Soccer team to Orlando. We look forward to working with the Orlando City SC ownership group to finalize an expansion agreement.”
In September, Orlando City SC captured its second USL PRO Championship with a 7-4 victory of the Charlotte Eagles for a USL-record crowd of 20,886 at the Florida Citrus Bowl. Orlando City president Phil Rawlins cited the victory, the large crowd and the professionalism of his club as proof that Orlando City SC is ready to become an MLS franchise.
The Board of Commissioners vote approved the use of Tourist Development Tax funds for multiple venues, including a soccer stadium. The City of Orlando unanimously approved the funding on October 7, completing the financial structure of the proposed soccer stadium.
“We are ecstatic about the positive vote,” said Orlando City President Phil Rawlins. “Our fans have been the driving force behind the effort to bring MLS to Orlando. This one is for them.”