The city of Orlando has quietly purchased more than $8 million of downtown real estate in recent months in the area mooted as a potential location for a new soccer-specific stadium, offering further proof of the central Florida community's strategic positioning for an MLS expansion bid.
Third-division side Orlando City SC have made no secret of their desire to someday join MLS, and the club seems to have found a willing partner in mayor Buddy Dyer, who hopes to help facilitate the development of a $110 million soccer stadium for the Lions. Some $30 million of that estimated amount would come from the club, and the rest would be provided by a mix of city, state and county funds and taxes.
Last week, Dyer received authorization from the city council to buy four parcels of property worth $4 million near the Amway Center, the downtown arena which is home to the NBA's Orlando Magic.
This week the Orlando Sentinel discovered, via a public-records request, that Dyer's administration had actually spent more than twice that amount overall, thanks to the acquisition of 17 more plots worth $4.3 million. Because none of those land parcels were worth more than $500,000 each, Dyer was not required to attain prior permission from the council for those purchases, but Mayor Dyer's deputy chief of staff Heather Fagan told the Sentinel that “the commissioners were briefed on potential options for future uses of the site.”
The land itself is described as “mostly vacant lots and warehouses,” in the words of the area's City Commissioner, and it adds up to an estimated three-quarters of two city blocks.
City officials refused to confirm that the land purchases are related to the stadium project, calling them only “a strategic acquisition.”
But it certainly looks like the ideal location and footprint for a downtown soccer venue.