By FRANCO PANIZO
From grabbing national headlines to acquiring the necessary land for a soccer-specific stadium without much struggle, things have been pretty rosy for Orlando City in their quest to earn an MLS franchise.
That is, until now.
Orlando City’s hopes of reaching MLS in the near future suffered a big blow on Friday as the Florida House of Representatives did not pass the bill that would have funded part of their proposed soccer-specific stadium. In fact, the House of Representatives did not even bring the bill up for a vote as it adjourned on Friday evening.
Shortly after, Orlando City president Phil Rawlins took to Twitter to explain part of the reason for that, saying that being tied into the Miami Dolphins’ request for tax-paid renovations to Sun Life Stadium proved costly.
@orlandocitysc Speaker wud notbring up Bill. Politics of the sales tax referendum for Dolphins complicated the issue and killed our Bill
— philip rawlins (@OCPres) May 3, 2013
The bill had initially been voted on and approved by the Florida Senate on Monday but was modified twice and subsequently approved each time to finally reach the House of Representatives on Friday.
As Friday concluded, though, there was no mention of the bill by House of Representatives Speaker Will Weatherford, who has already been accused of going back on his word by Dolphins owner Stephen Ross. Ross told the Miami Herald that Weatherford had said he would bring the bill up for a vote before failing to do so.
It is unclear what exactly this setback means for Orlando’s hopes of reaching MLS. The USL PRO club – which had been aggressively campaigning for its fanbase to reach out to state government officials in an effort to push the passing of the bill and was planning on releasing stadium renderings in a few weeks’ time – has insisted it will continue to make a push for a major league franchise.
Friday’s turn of events, however, mean Orlando City will need to go back to the drawing board to figure out a way they can make up the money they were hoping to get from the state.
Surprised by this development? How do you think Orlando City will respond? Still think they get an MLS franchise in the near future?
Share your thoughts below.