Orlando mayor promised land in exchange for county's vote on soccer stadium funds



ORLANDO, Fla. - A surprise move by Orlando's mayor helped push the vote for funding for a soccer stadium through the Orange County Commission on Tuesday.

Prior to the meeting, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer urged commissioners to vote yes, by promising to give city-owned land to the county -- basically for free.

The land sits at the intersection of Pershing Avenue and Dixie Bell Drive in Orlando, next to Orange County's Barber Park.

"I will make a public offer right now. If you want us to give you the land, we'll do that," Dyer told commissioners.

Commissioner Pete Clarke said he wanted to make sure the county would be able to develop the 26 acres the city owns that sits next to the park.

Dyer wanted to keep Clarke happy because Clarke was the swing vote that could make or break the deal to give $20 million toward the soccer stadium.

"If you want to offer us the land, I would enjoy making that motion," said Clarke.

The park sits in Orlando City Commissioner Jim Gray's district. He said the offer took him by surprise. Gray said the city already drew up a concept plan for the park.

Gray said he is not opposed to the deal with the county, as long as the park gets built.

Clarke said he wanted to ensure the community got something back from Orlando City Soccer.

"One of these kids could be playing at the MLS stadium 19 years from now," Clarke said.

In the end, the deal worked -- Clarke got his guarantee of getting to master plan his park Dyer got the soccer stadium money.

But technically the City Council still has to approve that land giveaway.

A city spokesperson said the mayor had the authority to represent the city and will work in good faith to resolve the issue.