After a battle that’s lasted for over a year, the Orlando City Soccer Club along with Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs will make a special announcement, that will usher in a new era for the City Beautiful.
MLS will be coming to Orlando, granting the area it’s second Major League Franchise.
Bringing the “the beautiful game” here wasn’t an easy battle. They had to convince elected leaders to use taxpayer dollars to help pay for construction costs of a new stadium. This was the only way MLS would give the city a team. This created obstacles to be negotiated and fights to be won, but in the end, City Soccer got it done.
Let’s break down how they did it.
They got the media on their side: City Soccer made massive Ad Buys on the Radio and brokered time on talk shows that featured opinion leaders. We’re talking about weekly segments and events to get the public on it’s side. They were also able to get the Orlando Sentinel behind the idea, and between those two mediums they had all of their bases covered. This created a sentiment of public approval before anyone could really go negative with it.
After a Set-Back in Tallahassee, the club didn’t stop moving: Easily, the biggest defeat the campaign took was in Tally during the Legislative Session. There was a stadium bill being floated around that would have allowed tax dollars to subsidize a portion of the stadium. Unfortunately for the club, they ran out of time and the bill never got a serious look during the busy session. They soldiered on though but for Buddy Dyer, who made the trip to lobby for the project, it was a rare political loss.
They bundled the stadium with DPAC and the Citrus Bowl then tapped TDT Dollars: Everyone knew that the Citrus Bowl had to be renovated. They also knew that construction of the Performing Arts Center Downtown had to be completed. While they weren’t sure about a new Soccer Stadium, bundling the projects meant that if you turned down one, you turned down the others. The Club also went after Tourism Development Dollars, which by law have to be spent on projects that well, propel tourism. This created a coalition with the support of a lot of powerful business leaders.
Seminole County Chipped in 2 Million Dollars: Seemingly out of nowhere, the Seminole County Commission greenlit 2 million towards construction costs, citing a new MLS franchise would put create potential business for the county that is home to the City’s training facility. This set a precedent for the Orange Commission to follow.
They Won Over Teresa Jacobs: Everyone knew that Buddy Dyer and the City Council were on board from the jump. But what about Dyer’s fiscally conservative counterpart? Jacobs has a reputation for being much more thorough in her vetting of these proposals, and when they were able to convince her to get behind the project, it was all downhill from there.
So that’s how we got here. MLS is coming to Orlando and the team will be showcased in a brand new Soccer Stadium. It’s been a long slog of a journey but the team finally achieved it’s…..goal.