Orlando City SC asked their fans to petition their state representatives on behalf of the beautiful game, and the lawmakers have apparently heard their cries.
The Florida Senate on Monday gave an important boost to Orlando's persistent hunt for a soccer stadium, passing “SB-306,” a bill which enables MLS clubs to pursue funding for stadium construction through a state sales tax rebate program.
If it reaches fruition, the new law could be used to assist Orlando City (who currently play in USL PRO) and their partners in local government with the construction of their planned $105 million downtown soccer facility, to the tune of $1 million a year over 30 years.
Florida already allows NFL, NHL, NBA and major-league baseball franchises to apply for a share of its annual tax revenues from tourism in order to build or refurbish venues under public jurisdiction, and if the bill passes, MLS and NASCAR will be included in the reckoning as well.
Under the program, each year the state's Department of Economic Opportunity would screen eligible sports franchises. And with Orlando seeking only $1 million per year – the current sales tax rebate pool is some $13 million – for the chance to bring MLS back to the Sunshine State, many observers believe their application would be viewed favorably.
The bill now moves to the state House of Representatives, where it is considered to have a good chance of passage this week. The current legislative session is scheduled to conclude on May 3.