Critics say Dyer jumped gun on soccer stadium land purchase



ORLANDO, Fla. - Mayor Buddy Dyer isn't giving up on plans to build a soccer stadium in downtown Orlando, even after state lawmakers didn't take a vote on a bill that would've helped fund the project.

Lawmakers refused to consider a bill that would have provided $30 million to help build the soccer stadium at the corner of Parramore and Central on property the city has already purchased. 

The city already spent more than $8 million on the land, but one former city commissioner told Channel 9 he thinks the mayor may have jumped the gun on the purchase.

The city paid four times the appraised value for the block of land. And now that the major funding source is off the table, it doesn’t sound like there is a Plan B for the land.

“Orlando will get a Major League Soccer team,” Dyer told Channel 9. “I'm absolutely positive about that.”

“Did you rush into buying that $8 million worth of land?” asked Channel 9’s Lori Brown.

“Not at all,” said Dyer. I can promise you some day there will be a Major League Soccer stadium on that property.”

In the past several months, Dyer's administration quietly purchased the millions of dollars worth of land without asking for city council's approval.

“It's a lot of money to spend when you don't have commitments in hand to do the stadium,” said former city commissioner Phil Diamond. “You never know, you never know what the legislature is going to do."

Diamond said the city did not need to rush the purchase of the land since it's been sitting there unused for about a decade.

The former commissioner said the city could have gotten an option to purchase the land like the Orlando Magic are doing for the entertainment complex.

But Dyer insists there will one day be a stadium here.

“We're only two days after the end of the legislative session, so we'll certainly take a deep breath and reassess how we move forward from here,” he said.