On Friday, Orlando City Soccer Club president Phil Rawlins sent out a tweet to followers stating that Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs wanted to "fast-track" the county's funding approval process.
We obtained a copy of the memo from Jacobs to Rawlins detailing the county's plan for moving forward with the stadium funding request; you can read the memo for yourself at the end of this post.
If you remember our stadium update article from a few weeks ago we reported that Jacobs was "warming" to the idea of providing Tourism Development Taxes (TDT), towards the project. The initial funding plan for the stadium had pegged $25M in TDT funds from the county towards the $105M project cost. After state funding fell through in Tallahassee last month the team has spent the last several weeks revising their cost estimates and determining an additional funding stream to make-up for the $30M loss. Our understanding is that the stadium will be in the $90M-$95M price range and that the balance of the funds will be covered privately by the team owners with cost overruns also covered by the club.
Why the sudden about-face from the Mayor Jacobs on the stadium project? Jacobs has requested more private funding from the club since the beginning, the revised stadium funding plan may have provided her just that. She has asked that the county to "fast-track" their due diligence and for team officials to present their plan to major players in the tourism industry in Orlando. Jacobs goes on to say that once all of those items are completed that the Tourism Development Council (TDC) will meet to either approve or deny the request for future TDT funding. It is important to point out that the mention of "future funding" likely means the county will contribute a fixed amount of money each year over several years versus a lump sum upfront.
So the $25M question is how long will all of this take? Jacobs stated that it may be a bit premature to schedule the stadium funding for a vote during the next TDC meeting on June 21st. However, she did go out of her way to state she would call an emergency meeting of the TDC to vote on the proposal when it was available. With the next scheduled meeting after June being in late September it seems a vote would come in July or August. The team had previously stated their goal of having a fully approved stadium funding plan in place by July; that appears to still be a strong possibility.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Orlando City Soccer Club