Thursday, May 2, 2013

Stadium Bill moves to Final Day

The bill that will allow Orlando City Soccer Club to be eligible for state funding to be used towards their proposed stadium moves into the final day of this year's House Session.

What began as a fairly clear cut path towards approval in the morning quickly become a scramble for changes and approvals. Here is a breakdown of what happened in Tallahassee today regarding the stadium bill effort.

The original bill, Senate Bill 306 (SB-306), was approved by the Senate on Monday Evening in a 35-4 vote and spent the next few days under review by the House. 

Thursday morning saw the addition of several amendments by Representative David Santiago of Deltona, adding a little more strength to the bill for Orlando City. One of the items that was included was additional points in the new evaluation system for "special events" such as All-Star games and international matches. MLS and US Soccer have both mentioned the strong possibility of holding matches at Orlando's proposed stadium in the future.

However, SB-306 was not included on the House Calendar for Thursday and there were concerns that any changes to the bill in the House would require the Senate to vote again, something that would be difficult with just two days left in the current session. 

Senator Oscar Braynon II of Miami-Dade County, along with Representative Santiago, led an effort to get SB-306 transferred into an existing "tax administration" bill, Senate Bill 1828 (SB-1828), one that had already been approved by the House. Amendment 678958 transferred SB-306 in its entirety to SB-1828 and amendments  588921 and 397549 transferred the previous changes Representative Santiago proposed earlier in the day.

At 3:40pm Thursday the Senate approved the revised version of SB-1828 by a vote of 37-2 and sent it back to the House for final approval. All notices for the House Calendar for Friday were to be submitted by 4:30pm on Thursday, the bill was included in those documents for vote Friday.

In the final day of the House of Representative session for 2013 the bill is expected to be presented to the members in the morning for debate and questions followed by a full house vote. With 120 voting members the bill will need a simple majority of 61 to be approved.

The last stop will be to Governor Rick Scott's desk who will likely approve the bill as he has been a proponent of Orlando City's effort to bring Major League Soccer back to Florida.

When the bill becomes law, which will likely occur in June, Orlando City will formally submit their proposal for funding for their stadium project to the Economic Development Committee for review and approval. The current funding plan for the proposed $105M stadium project would see $1M per year for 30 years provided from the state in the form of a sales tax rebate. Sources in Orlando and Tallahassee have said that the team's funding proposal will likely be approved without issue based on the small amount requested from a possible $13M available per year for all sports projects covered by the bill. The idea of bringing a new major sports franchise to the state also adds weight and leverage to Orlando City's proposal.

With funding from the team, City, and State in place the final piece of the puzzle will come from Orange County, home to Orlando, which still needs to approve $25M in tourism taxes for the stadium project. Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs is said to be "warming up" to the proposal, but likely won't act until the state funding portion is agreed to in principle.


  1. I feel smart after reading this. Nice work!

  2. Nice work! Has anyone entertained the idea of having Disney as coinvestor on board? With their financial clout there would not be any need for this wrangling.

  3. That the bill is on the House calendar not "in messages" for Friday should be a relief to all. The need to return the legislation passed Monday to the Senate for timely modification was a temporary squall. It left many in an undisclosed and under-reported wait.

    Great summary of today's events, Adam.

    1. Well it looks like SB-1828 is going to Senate Messages route tomorrow since it wasn't added "formally" before the 4:30pm deadline. I am trying to confirm with Phil Rawlins if that is the plan, but either way I still see this bill getting approved tomorrow.


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