TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Orlando City Soccer Club suffered a major setback in it's push for a new soccer stadium after the Florida Legislature refused to consider a bill that would have aided the team financially.
The bill would have likely resulted in millions of dollars for a new soccer stadium in Orlando. The new stadium would in turn increase the chances of bringing a Major League Soccer franchise to Orlando.
Orlando City and other professional sports teams in Florida, including the Miami Dolphins, were all backing the proposal, which would have allowed each of them to compete for a share of state tax dollars.
The Florida Senate first passed the legislation, but House Speaker Will Weatherford refused to bring up the bill during the state's legislative session.
"I think part of the complication was the fact that it wasn't just the Dolphins," Weatherford said. "You had five or six different franchises that were looking for a tax rebate, and that's serious public policy. You're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars and I think the House just never got comfortable there when the session ended."
The City of Orlando has already purchased $8 million worth of land to build a new stadium near the Amway Center. Additionally, the team has the backing of multi-millionaire Flavio Augusto da Silva, who has already pledged $30 million for the stadium and roughly $50 million for an MLS franchise fee.
Officials still expect to have a financial plan in place by the summer to present to Major League Soccer.
Orlando City president Phil Rawlins said the bill's rejection is a setback, but it does not mean that all hope is lost.
"We will find a way to make the stadium and MLS a reality for Orlando City," Rawlins said.