The Magic should be getting some company as the city's major sports team. MLS may not be at the level of the NBA, but the city of Orlando and Orange County paved the way for Orlando City Soccer to join the Magic in the top league for their sport in this country.
David Damron of the Orlando Sentinel reports Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County mayor Teresa Jacobs reached an agreement to provide a $94.5 million package to boost sports and entertainment options in Orlando. The package includes the additional funding needed to complete a soccer specific stadium in downtown Orlando in addition for additional funds to complete renovations for the Citrus Bowl and the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center in Downtown Orlando.
The county will get funds for the stadium from its tourist tax, the same source the county used to fund its portion of the Amway Center. The city may issue bonds to fund its part of the deal.
As Damron reports, there are still details that need to be worked out before it is presented to the city council and county commission for a final vote. Getting the backing of the mayors though is a major step for completing this project.
Orlando City Soccer Club has not been shy about its plans to bring an MLS team to Orlando since Phil Rawlins moved the team from Austin, Texas three years ago. The team has performed very well winning the USL Pro Championship in its first season in Orlando and winning the regular season championship last year. Orlando City has clinched a playoff berth this year and is sitting in second place.
The team has gained a good following. But the MLS dream was completely dependent upon getting the funding and completion of a soccer specific stadium, a requirement for a team to join the MLS now. It seemed like this was the only impediment for the team's bid to get moved up to the country's top soccer league.
With this step out of the way, it appears Orlando City is much closer to reaching that goal.
This is a good thing for the Magic too. The soccer specific stadium, slated to be built on Pine Street and Parramore, just a few blocks away from Amway Center, would bring more people downtown and would bring more exposure to the city. Orlando City has already taken an international posture too with its ownership group — at first it was Phil Rawlins from England and then added Flavio Augusto di Silva from Brazil.
In addition sports teams can help each other through cross promotion and increased civic pride. More people around Amway Center (with all its Magic branding) is not a bad thing. These two franchises are not in direct competition. Getting the fan bases together — both are extremely passionate — could be a very good thing.
This is a move that potentially could change the Orlando sports scene and make Orlando a much bigger sports town. If this deal get done and Orlando City gets moved up to MLS, it is safe to say Orlando sports will be a better place.