Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Orlando City Timeline to MLS

The last few weeks have seen significant progress from Orlando City Soccer Club in their push to join Major League Soccer (MLS). The bulk of that effort has focused on an intensified campaign to get City and County funding secured for the team's proposed soccer specific stadium in downtown Orlando.

The rest of 2013 will be the most critical time for the future development of the Orlando City franchise and their goal of MLS. From our sources and other reports we have pieced together a tentative timeline of events from today through the first match in the team's new stadium in MLS.

June 21st - Quartley meeting of Orange County's Tourist Development Council (TDC), the governing body that will ultimately vote on the $25M stadium funding request from the club. We have reported that Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs feels the June meeting is too earlier for the proposal to be brought in front of the council, but would be willing to hold a "special meeting" before the next scheduled TDC event in September.

Late June - "Visit Orlando" will present their economic analysis report to Mayor Jacobs. Visit Orlando is a private group comprised of major leaders in the tourism industry in Central Florida. Many of their members are also part of the TDC that will ultimately decide on the fate of the stadium funding from the County. Visit Orlando confirmed to us that they met with Mayor Jacobs two weeks ago regarding her request for anaysis information. While the date for presenting their findings has not been set, Visit Orlando stated they "should be able to report on the Mayor's request soon."

Early July - Orlando City will likely be asked to present their "pitch" to Visit Orlando, County Commissioners, and Mayor Jacobs for a final time and discuss the fiscal and sector impact analysis. A date for this meeting has not been set and will not be open to the public.

July 8th - Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer is likely to bring the final land purchase for the stadium site in front of the City Council for a vote. The parcel is 1.7 acres located in the southwest corner of the proposed stadium site and would likely be approved for purchase with a price around $2.4M. The land purchase could also be brought to a vote July 22nd or at any of the biweekly city council meetings later in the summer.

Mid July - Orange County TDC to convene in a special session to vote on approving the use of future Tourism Development Taxes (TDT) towards Orlando City's stadium plan. The funding will likely come in the form of a commitment of $5M per year over 5 years meaning the team may need to take out a bond to get the full $25M upfront for construction costs.

July 31st - Board of Governors meeting at MLS All-Star week in Kansas City. Orlando City has had the goal of presenting their stadium and expansion plans to the full board during the July meeting. While a vote on expansion is unlikely at that time, it would mark the official start of negotiations between the club and MLS regarding a franchise fee and start date. Brett Lashbrook was brought onto the Orlando City management team specifically for the purpose of negotiating the franchise fee and entry schedule.

September 7th/8th - The USL PRO Championship will be held at the higher-seeded team's stadium. Orlando City's original contract with USL PRO was for 3 seasons ending in 2013 but all indications are that the team will remain in the league until they move to MLS and could potentially maintain a USL PRO team as a reserve squad in the future.

December 7th - MLS Cup Final weekend is the target date for the official announcement of Orlando City joining the league. While the contract and expansion fee will likely be signed a few weeks prior, the official notification to the media as part of the MLS Cup would be in line with previous expansion announcements and would still allow Orlando to start play in 2015.

January/February 2014 - Construction could begin on Orlando City's new stadium. The design firm of Woods Bagot is in the final stages of their conceptual plans and could have construction documents ready before the end of 2013.

March 2015 - Orlando City would begin play in MLS either with an extended road trip, similar to Sporting KC in 2011, or by playing at the Florida Citrus Bowl until their new stadium is complete.

July/August 2015 - Orlando City's new stadium opens for business and would likely be in the running for the 2017 or 2018 MLS All-Star game with NYCFC getting the 2016 date if their new stadium is complete.

A lot has to happen in the next few months for Orlando City to realize it's goal of joining MLS for the 2015 season. While some of the negotiations with local officials may slide a week or two, the team will still need to present their stadium and funding plan by mid-summer to allow for the league to negotiate their expansion deal prior to the end of the year.


  1. nice work..hopefully this happens!

  2. Great article! I know we take it 1 thing at a time and we have lots more 2 worry about, but if everything goes our way the new stadium will open in July or August of 2015!?!?

  3. as a neutral why would mls admit them in 2015 if their stadium wont be ready until august? i think the league would much prefer them to wait another year so everything is done and ready to go.

    1. MLS didn't make it mandatory for Orlando to have a new stadium built by the start of their first season in the league, but it was made clear that the current venue would not be appropriate as a permanent home. As long as a new stadium was being built and Orlando could move into it shortly after joining MLS, then that was sufficient.

      By your same reasoning, that should have barred NYCFC from being admitted as the newest expansion team seeing as how they don't have a stadium either.

    2. A lot of teams have actually done this in the past. Chicago had an extended road trip before Toyota park finished and I believe Dallas had to do the same thing. I know they were all already existing MLS teams but an extended road trip is very feasible to start the season.

  4. Are you still hearing that another team (miami) will be announced with OCSC in December?

    1. Honestly, I would not be surprised if Miami/Beckham also presented a plan during the July Board of Governors meeting for MLS. The league seems to be focused on getting Beckham's deal in place before the next TV contract negotiations come up and thus push-up the overall value.

      Someone mentioned the fact that Beckham's original contract stated he would have the option for the 20th MLS expansion team with the exception of NYC or LA. I don't think by default that means Miami will come on board before or at the same time as NYCFC, but it is a interesting question.

      If I was to bet, I would say Orlando City will get an expansion franchise deal before the end of 2013, but start of play could be 2015 or 2016.

  5. Buddy Dyer was on 740 The Game this morning and said definitively that we are getting an MLS franchise and it will be officially announced before the end of this summer!

  6. Great article, thanks Adam.

    Any thoughts on the fact that The Don has specifically stated the league is taking a "deep breath" after NYCFC and that they're not in a rush to add more teams?

    Also, the fact that the league has had push-back from all teams in the past regarding the expansion draft in particular, does it seem more likely that they'd announce Orlando for 2016 rather than double up on 2015, which would take a greater toll on the existing teams?

    1. A deep breath is a non-duration term. I point to the comments we received directly from MLS Dir of Comms Dan Courtemanche a couple weeks ago saying, "we are pleased with the addition of NYCFC and will be addressing future expansion in the near future."

      I guess I see value in having NYCFC join in 2015 and Orlando City in 2016 just to keep the two expansion plans from stealing thunder from eachother.

  7. First off, a very well done timeline. Now on to the comments... Of course Miami or another city will be presenting with Orlando. I wouldn't be surprised if Atlanta has a seat in that presentation as well. The league's expansion will come in even numbers, i.e. 20, 22 and eventually 24. The odd number of teams have made scheduling too much of a headache for the league.
    Regarding a deep breath, I don't see how MLS will turn away expansion money at this point in its history, the league will expand to 22 and I believe 24 is not that far away.
    Besides if they don't expand, could NASL and the NY Cosmos become a headache down the road. At this point in American soccer we do not need competing leagues or the notion of competing leagues.

    1. The NASL is absolutely no where near competing with MLS. Not even close.


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