9 Investigates $1M from Osceola Co. for Orlando soccer stadium

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ORLANDO, Fla. —

There's a plan to bring a major event to the Amway Center in Orlando.

9 Investigates why Osceola County is paying $1 million for it, since Osceola taxpayers still don't know how their $1 million investment in Orlando City Soccer will benefit them.

Eyewitness News put in a request for all the records surrounding the deal and the results were unusual.

Eyewitness News was there for the celebration to welcome Major League Soccer to Orlando.

So was Osceola County Commissioner Fred Hawkins. The reasons behind his appearance surprised Eyewitness News' political analyst, Rick Foglesong.

Documents were given to Osceola County commissioners the day they decided to hand over $1 million for Orlando City Soccer, which included a letter from Mayor Buddy Dyer pledging his support of a plan to extend Osceola Parkway.

"I am shocked by it," Foglesong said.

The mayor sits on the Metroplan transportation board and while he never promised his vote in writing, Foglesong says this still may have crossed a line.

"Does this letter give you the impression the mayor's vote is for sale?" Channel 9's Nancy Alvarez asked.

"Yes, it absolutely does. This is a quid pro quo that's being arranged. The mayor is saying he'll help at Metroplan to do something Osceola County wants in return for Osceola County doing something for the city of Orlando," Foglesong said.

There are several references to a "major event" being pursued by the county that could be held at the Amway Center. Mayor Dyer said he'll work with the Orlando Magic and the NBA to help accommodate this "mystery event" that could result in 10 days of consecutive sellout shows for years to come.

It sounds exciting but the catch is Osceola County taxpayers still don't know what it is or how it could benefit them if it's being held miles away in downtown Orlando.

"I think taxpayers in Osceola County ought to be concerned about whether this is a sure deal," Foglesong said.

Statement from Mayor Dyer:

“Governments that collaborate and work together across jurisdictional boundaries is in the best interest of our entire region.  Mayor Dyer is happy to support these regional projects Osceola County is pursuing which will bring benefits to all of Central Florida.

Having said that, the funding agreement between the City and Osceola County does not make the City’s support of these two projects a condition precedent or contingency to the funding for the construction of the soccer stadium.”