We have obtained a copy of a letter sent from Orlando's most successful hotelier to Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs stating in strong words his company's position to not use hotel tax dollars to support Orlando City's proposed stadium project.
The letter was sent from Angel de la Portilla of Central Florida Strategies, a business relations firm, represents all of Harris Rosen's properties for matters regarding government relations. On behalf of the resort giant, de la Portilla states that Orange County, "maintain surplus TDT funds in reserves for additional convention center improvement and future enhancements."
The issue at hand is whether or not $20M in surplus Tourism Development Taxes (TDT) will be approved by Orange County to complete the funding for Orlando City's downtown stadium. On July 16th the Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association (CFHLA) came out stating a similar position that only excess revenues from TDT funds should be used towards sporting projects and that additional renovations to the Florida Citrus Bowl ranks ahead of a soccer specific stadium. However, Rosen's position, which you can read in full below, is the first from a major player in the decision making process for approval of the funds.
The memos, whether confidential or not, are an effort by the hotel industry to ensure their position of supporting only the Orange County Convention Center with their taxes prior to a series of meetings over the next two weeks. Orlando City confirmed today our report from two weeks ago that team officials will present their stadium plan to the full Board of County Commissioners (BCC) on Tuesday August 6th. That meeting will be followed by an August 9th meeting of the Tourism Development Council (TDC) who will likely make a non-binding recommendation for or against funding the stadium project. Ultimately the BCC will have the final word on the funding with their next meeting on August 20th, a date that could seal Orlando City's fate. With all meetings open to the public, supporter groups and fans alike will need to show their presence and make a statement as to why a new stadium will benefit the citizens of Central Florida.
So while Orlando City representatives were presenting their plans to Major League Soccer (MLS) owners in Kansas City as part of the league's All-Star Game festivities, the stakeholders for the TDT were getting ready for battle too.