Monday, May 6, 2013

OPINION: Setbacks and Soccer

Last friday may be viewed in various ways when we look back at the history of Orlando City Soccer Club.

Late in the afternoon official word came down from Tallahassee that the house of representatives would not vote on a bill that would have provided state funding towards the team's stadium plan.

By that evening, media in Central Florida and beyond began writing off the team's chances of joining Major League Soccer (MLS), saying that the stadium deal was dead and another franchise would likely leapfrog Orlando.

The mainstream media said that the funding "hiccup" for Orlando's proposed soccer stadium was a major setback. Mainstream media, let me put this in perspective for you, being a soccer fan in America is a major setback on its own.

From the time you announce your allegiance to "the beautiful game" as an American you are inundated with people questioning your mental well being.

"Who cares about soccer?"
"It's such a boring sport, how can you watch that?"
"We watch baseball and football in this country."

The foundation of supporting soccer in America is based around the principle of hard work.

Maybe it's showing up at a soccer bar before 8am on a Saturday morning just to support your favorite Premier League team.

Maybe it's waking up in the middle of the night to watch the US Men's National Team play a friendly in Japan on television.

Maybe it's as simple as wearing your favorite team jersey to the mall and getting strange looks from several people.

Of course we would have liked to have seen the funding bill make its way through the legislature and to have crossed that item off the stadium to-do list. But being a fan of our sport, being a support of soccer, means setbacks big and small are an everyday occurrence.

The challenge presented to Orlando City on Friday is not a setback, it is an opportunity. It will be a chance for supporters and non-supporters alike to see the robustness Orlando City's plan. The strength of any management team is not the ability to thrive when things go right, it's the capability to overcome adversity when things go wrong. That capacity, that willingness to charge forward when others look down at you, that is what being a soccer supporter in this country is all about.


  1. It took three tries to pass SunRail. All great community projects take perseverance. Mayor Dyer and other Central Florida leaders don't give up. The key will be to decouple the legislation from the Miami Dolphins and try again next year. And of course the focus now should be on gaining the support of Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs.

  2. The Sun Rail wouldn't have taken 3 tries if our inept leadership had just taken the transportation benefits initially offered by the government, but that's off-topic...

    It might take another week to get over my irk of how this situation was (mis)handled, along with my absolute disgust of the Miami Dolphins' tack-on request(of which they don't deserve a red cent... they built the dump, they should fix anything wrong it & surrounding areas).

    Despite the Dolphins and the anonymous "voodoo hex" that shall be placed upon their pastel-coloured 2013 campaign; I'm more irked that there wasn't more support from the MLS administrative staff. If we had the efforts that they've given NY2 on our side, this might've been a different result. But hey, that's "Monday Morning Water Cooler" speculation here at its best.

    Go City.

    1. MLS can't endorse an effort can they? If Orlando City was granted a franchise they could, but otherwise it would be awkward. It would be nice to see a (public) guiding hand from MLS towards getting the franchise and stadium together but ultimately every other city would want the same help and I don't think Garber has time for that.

      I think the MLS can get to 24 teams efficiently and that's where a hard line could be drawn.

    2. Daniel. If you didn't get a chance to read my article on lobbyists for the NY2 vs Orlando effort you should. It might open your eyes just a bit, but ultimately it was Orlando City paying its own way, no help from MLS.

  3. Who was the State representative, or representatives, responsible for coupling Orlando City's effort for funding with that of Miami's?

    That's what killed the bill and that move, from what I have read, came late in the day, literally.

    Smells bad.

    1. There were no less than six professional sports bills working their way through the FL House or Senate this session. It was a little more than a month ago that the move was made in the Senate to combine the bills into a single bill where the franchises would compete for the $13M available annually. Although the bill that would simply have added MLS to the list of teams eligible for the funds still was in the mix it never made it out of the committee review because the merged bill had the most momentum.

  4. So the question is where do we go from here? Is Orlando City in MLS in 2015 still a possibility, can alternate financing be found for the 3o million shortfall to build the SSS on land already aquired in the Parramore? With Disney already involved in soccer, wouldn't they be a good candidate to invest?

    1. I still don't (and sort of refuse to) believe that the club and everyone involved didn't and don't already have a bagful of Plan B, C, D, etc., and as such this legislature action wasn't all their eggs in one basket. They've been wonderfully shrewd the whole way through so far, it just seems unthinkable that this aspect (the tax-rebate legislation) was the make-or-break element in their overall plan. Heck, I reckon Mr. Rawlins said as much is his comments late Friday and on Saturday morning prior to the butt-kicking later Saturday. My assumption is they were ready to re-group immediately and press forward toward an MLS date of somewhere around 2015 or a bit later.


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