Did Orlando mayor make promises to Osceola County that he can't keep?

Updated:

Loading

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - There are growing questions over whether the mayor of Orlando made promises he couldn't keep to get Osceola County to buy in to Orlando's new soccer stadium.
           
Last year, Osceola County gave Orlando $1 million toward its new soccer stadium, in exchange for a rodeo at the Amway Center, and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer's backing to extend the Osceola Parkway.
 
Now that the rodeo deal has fallen through, there are concerns that Dyer's commitment to the parkway might do the same.
 
The mayor told Channel 9's Nancy Alvarez he simply pledged his support for a road project and that there were no guarantees. That has some taxpayers in Osceola County wondering what they paid for.
 
When Osceola County commissioners voted to hand over $1 million for Orlando City Soccer, they received a letter from Dyer.
 
The letter talks about plans to extend the Osceola Parkway. Osceola County Commissioner Fred Hawkins said the project could be moved to begin in the next three years instead of 20, thanks to the soccer agreement.
 
"Can you make that happen for Osceola County?" Alvarez asked Dyer.
 
"I don't actually think there was any deal involved," Dyer said.
 
Alvarez asked Dyer about his plans to support Osceola's road project at MetroPlan, and he said because he only has one vote on the board, there is no guarantee.
 
"Was this part of the deal though, for the million dollars, that you pushed up this road?" Alvarez asked Dyer.
 
"No. I have always been supportive of Osceola County's transportation needs and the rodeo, but it's independent of their contribution to the soccer stadium," Dyer said.
 
The agreement also includes youth soccer clinics hosted by Orlando City in Osceola County for the next five years.
 
The soccer club is also expected to provide $250,000 worth of sponsorship to promote the county.
 
Channel 9's political analyst reviewed the agreement and said it's missing something for Osceola taxpayers, who just made a $1 million investment.
 
"They get the good feeling of knowing they helped bring soccer to metropolitan Orlando.  What they don't get is a material benefit that's a sure deal," said Dr. Rick Foglesong.
 
An Osceola County spokesman said Major League Soccer is expected to impact the entire region, not just Orlando. He said the county expects to see an economic boost in hotel stays and tourism overall.