In a 5 to 2 vote, the Orange County Commission has approved a financing plan that will allocate $20 million in tourist tax dollars toward the construction of a roughly 18,000-seat soccer stadium.
Proponents had argued that the stadium deal was necessary in order to lure a Major League Soccer expansion franchise to Orlando. Commissioners Fred Brummer and Ted Edwards were the lone dissenters.
Tuesday evening's vote is part of a larger, $94.5 million venues package which includes $25 million to help complete the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts; $12 million more for Florida Citrus Bowl renovations; and nearly $30 million for sports tourism marketing.
Earlier this month, the City of Orlando unanimously approved an additional $20 million toward construction of a soccer stadium with $30 million coming from the team that will call that venue home. The stadium would be built along Church Street in Parramore, a block west of the Amway Center.
With the funding plan now complete, executives with Orlando's current professional soccer team, Orlando City Soccer Club, will now enter into final negotiations with Major League Soccer to bring a franchise to Orlando.
"We are ecstatic about the positive vote," said Orlando City President Phil Rawlins. "Our fans have been the driving force behind the effort to bring MLS to Orlando. This one is for them."
Rawlins said that with approval of funding for a downtown stadium, a franchise could be awarded as early as November.
"We'd like Orlando to be the next expansion team," MLS President Abbott said in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel Monday. "We have in place a number of the factors that we think are needed to be successful, a strong leadership group and a strong fan base. Once we finalize (a stadium plan), we will have a Major League Soccer team here."
The team would begin play in MLS in Spring of 2015.