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Orlando files for eminent domain for final piece of land for soccer-specific stadium

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Eminent domain, it is.

The Orlando Sentinel reported Tuesday that Orlando has filed suit in court to force a church in Parramore to sell the downtown property it’s on in order to give MLS-bound Orlando City SC the final piece of land they need for their soccer-specific stadium. New documents show that the city of Orlando raised its offer to the Faith Deliverance Temple to $4 million, but the small African-American-owned church wanted $15 million.

Faith Deliverance Temple initially wanted $35 million while Orlando began negotiations with a $1.5 million offer, which pointed to eminent domain being the likely route that the city would have to take in order to secure the land.

Now, it will be up to a judge to determine what happens next. If the city wins the case, it would then take possession of the property while a fair market value for the land is determined.

Orlando City wanted to play in their $115 million stadium during their inaugural MLS season in 2015, but have pushed the opening date back to 2016.

What do you think of Orlando (the city) finally filing for eminent domain? Expect the city to win the case? Just hoping for stadium construction to get underway as soon as possible?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Eminent domain troubles me in a lot of instances, but not here. $4m for a church in that location that’s been around for less than 30 years? They should take the money and run. That’s a windfall.

  2. This appears to be 100% legal and not the first time its happening. DC United’s stadium is using eminent domain, as did the Washington Nations, Madison Square Garden, TX Rangers Stadium, AT&T Cowboys Stadium, the new Sacramento Kings stadium… So many stadium deals built in this country have used eminent domain. And they all go through ridiculous battles like this. This one just has a very newsworthly face. The only other types of stadium deal that do not use domain are single owner land deals; typically where the local government hold the entire lot — likely because they performed domain a few years ago…

    Personally i dont think eminent domain should ever be used for a for-profit deal. Regardless if its a tolled highway, apartment building, commercial building, stadium or a parking garage its a private business. Don’t tell me that a stadium is a cultural facility! Its just a method for billionair owners to squeeze $ out of local gov and (more importantly) gain leverage over them. Real travesty that our sports world has cornered us into.

    That said its the law and these are the times, the church is getting everything the can and MLS will have another stadium in 2016

  3. Compromise: build a church into the stadium. Fans could have a place to go to pray for the home team during halftime.

    Or there’s always this possibility:


    On a serious note, regarding the arguments above between reignman, Bach’s Thumb, slowleftarm, et al. You all realize that Franco asked what readers think about this use of eminent domain, right? I can see that reignman recognized it, because he answered that question…for which he was told, “Projects like this clearly qualify for eminent domain. If you want to argue that that shouldn’t be, that’s fine but it’s besides the point.” Sorry, but it can’t be “beside the point” to answer the question.

    Instead of getting all legal on reignman, why not recognize that he wasn’t trying to answer an essay question that asked for the definition of the law. He was saying why he was uncomfortable with the application of the law. Something can be legal but still not be right.

  4. This stadium will have zero benefit to that particular district, which is more in need of better schools and housing. That area is 95 percent Black American, and unlike Afro/Caribbean Blacks, they are not much into soccer

  5. Another view of the situation. For what its worth. I don’t think this is an appropriate use of eminent domain. However, as above, our 9 Lords Justices have said that this is a ok. See Kelo.

    Someday Kelo will be put with Dred Scott and Plessy vs. Ferguesson in heap of horrible surpreme court decisions

      • Corporations are people!
        Urg I think everyone on both sides of the political spectrum hates that one.

      • To have a sitting US Supreme Court Justice–the Chief Justice none the less–explicitly state that removing restrictions on the amount of money a single person could give to a candidate would NOT create situations of impropriety or lead to more corruption is one of the most galling and shocking things I have ever heard in my life.

        And I’m not being facetious. Given context and expectation, someone in that power saying that is the height of either sheer incompetence and ignorance or brazen corruption.

        Just… it makes you want to simply not care.

  6. I want Orlando to have its MLS stadium, but this is wrong. Sure, it’s legal, but those folks owned the land.

    Of course, the asking price of the church was astronomical, but to me, it’s no different than sports teams that use the so called “poison pills” in contracts to scare off other teams that would poach players. The exception is that in most sports leagues, you won’t find many instances of the league forcing the sell of a player to another buyer “for the overall good and betterment of the league” through a mechanism similar to Eminent Domain.

    My desire is for both sides to come out of this satisfied, but that line of thinking is probably naive…

  7. You people do realize we are talking about a church here right? Which many people I am sure have connections to. Weddings, Baptisms and many other events. I mean this is a place of worship we are talking about. How can you say to these people that the building they worship in is only worth the value of the land, brick and mortar?

    • Those sentimental attachments can be made to any house or business, why should houses of worship get extra consideration in that regard?

  8. Eminent domain was widely used in Chavez Ravine to purchase residents’ properties so that Dodger Stadium could be built. I imagine eminent domain has been used in many instances for stadia/stadiums.

    For Chavez Ravine, historical reports describe that nearly an entire community was displaced.

    • “”Eminent domain was widely used in Chavez Ravine to purchase residents’ properties so that Dodger Stadium could be built.””

      Two wrongs don’t make a right, my gawd. In this thread, you MLS flame bois have really shown yourselves to be the most pathetic lot on this earth.

      • ZTom: My point — of which I had not seen yet in this conversation — was to give an example of how eminent domain has been used previously to obtain land for a stadium. My conjecture is that eminent domain is widely used to obtain land for stadia/stadiums. There was no endorsement of this practice in my comment; this is not a forum on the historical consequences of Dodger Stadium.

        You on the other hand, were quick to read into my comments and offer a snap judgment followed by a personal attack, which is consistent with your offensive, immature and often ignorant approach to commenting on this site.

  9. They can’t fill their < 6k stadium and MLS TV numbers are lower than the WNBA. Why build a new stadium in Orlando?

    • BANG!

      An absolutely empty, baseless and pointless post to keep things…well I don’t know what purpose it serves actually, but TAKE THAT anyway!!

  10. This history of eminent domain in the US is replete with examples of private landowners having their property infringed upon — with compensation — because of a public use. In many instances, the private landowner could not simply up and move his business or livelihood to another location in the area without difficulty because natural features like water use was at issue. That does not seem to be the case with regard to this church, who does not appear to have any special interest in their present location and who surely would reap a unique windfall from above market compensation. Anyone above who seriously has an interest in this subject should study up on the law before they comment. Its tough to take opposition seriously when ignorance of the very legal principle at issue is set forth so obviously.

    • You do realize we are talking about a church here right? Which many people I am sure have connections to. Weddings, Baptisms and many other events. I mean this is a place of worship we are talking about. How can you say to these people that the building they worship in is only worth the value of the land, brick and mortar?

      • Why should the state care that its a church (and not that any other businesses or private property have memories?). Churches already get enough special privileges (tax free status). And anyway if special privilege was wrongly given to churches to resist imminent domain couldn’t anyone just declare their property a church?

      • You really missed my point entirely. It has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with how valuable the property is to the individual that currently owns it. There are intangibles here that a price can not be put upon. So everyone saying they are being greedy doesn’t understand the worth that this place possibly has for these people.

        If your grandfather built a log cabin on a piece of land with his own two hands, you were raised in it and have special memories of it, how would you feel if someone put a price on it that only took into account the lumber that could be sold off at auction?

    • The problem is not what the land is worth. What will it cost the church to buy the same size property and build a new church? While the site is being found, plans drawn up, permits and approvals received and construction takes place, the church will have to find a place to rent. Then there is the inconvenience of it all. What if they cannot find a spot in the neighborhood they serve? How are parishioners going to get to the temporary site and then the new site if it is not in the neighborhood? The costs are greater than the value of the land. Then there is the sentimental value for the parishioners. I think it is fair for them to try and get as much compensation for the inconvenience as possible.

      • Well stated. Your points only cover the surface. This goes so much deeper than most people posting here are considering…

      • It’s like… nobody understands the law or how this works or furthermore how far the city bent over backwards to go above and beyond what was legally required of them.

      • Or maybe we don’t agree with the idea that a sports stadium should fit under eminent domain. There are numerous studies showing that the promises of riches to the public when stadiums are built is vastly overstated. I understand the law perfectly well and know that the city will win this, that doesn’t make it right though.

      • Then the law is bullish!t. A stadium that will serve 18,000 people at most is no justification to use eminent domain especially when its been proven that publicly funded stadiums cost more than their economic benefit

      • Economic benefit has nothing to do with it. In fact, economic benefit is not even an aspect of legal consideration for public benefit.

        If it was, streets, parks, and everything else would never have been built.

        New stadiums being used to revitalize an impoverished area is exactly what eminent domain is for. And believe it or not, stadia are huge parts of a community. It’s why all cities try to get one or more.

      • FireFan: correct me if I am wrong, but it seems that Bridgeview is a poor example here. Toyota Park was financed almost entirely by public funds—and still is, right? I believe that Orlando City FC is asking only ~25% from the public.

      • Poor comparison. A downtown stadium such as OC’s is a direct result of the MLS2.0-type stadia such as Bridgeview that in hindsight were less than optimal decisions. See also: Frisco, TX.

      • Bach’s Thumb: Please clarify what otherwise seems to be contradictory. You wrote:

        “Economic benefit has nothing to do with it.”


        “New stadiums being used to revitalize an impoverished area is exactly what eminent domain is for.”

        “Economic benefit” and “revitalize…impoverished” seem highly related.

        (I hope this doesn’t come across as facetious; I really am curious what you meant.)

    • Eminent domain has been going on as long as time. There’s a reason Emperor Nero was famous for “fiddling while Rome burned”…he wanted to rebuild the city – the slums were getting of control – but the landowners and Senate wouldn’t let him do it…so when a big fire broke out, rather than round up the fire brigade and put the blaze out, he let half of Rome burn down instead. Then he took the torched land and did what he wanted with it – with no compensation to anybody. Eminent domain established.

      At some point it’s a lot more proactive for a city to be able to engage in re-urbanization without letting it get to that point. The line between social progress and trampling on the rights of the underclass has always been…a point of contention.

      • This makes Nero sound a lot more sane then I would have guessed. Oh its horrible and brutal but decided astute of him.

        Eminent Domain is a necessary evil and it often happens in cases where it shouldn’t.

  11. considering the few thousands that will actualy attend the games and the few dozen that will actually watch it on tv how can this be considered the “public good”?

    • Well it’s good for the owners of the team and for the politicians that are on their payroll right?
      Aren’t they part of the “public?” If you cut them do they not bleed? So a little compassion!

    • It will be good for the bars and restaurants that will likely spring up around it and therefore the employees of those bars and restaurants and so on. Roads and Hospitals don’t benefit absolutely everyone either but they get public support too.

  12. The city has a pretty open and shut case. Double market value was offered for a piece of decrepit land in an area the city and state are desperately trying to revive. Good faith was made–in fact they city went above and beyond good faith.

  13. While Eminent Domain is never a good tool, This is one instance it can be..

    Seriously leaving the land in the hands of a broken down greedy African church, just holding out for pirate money is sheer greed ? At least this way the city can put a few hundred people to work building a stadium, Not to mention the jobs and moneys that the stadium itself will bring in.
    I say give them FAIR market value not a penny more and not a penny less

      • Ignorance is bliss.

        Although they are asking for a lot, to call a church greedy when they haven’t got the money yet is ignorant. However if your looking at what they should receive is a different conversation if you understand the vision for that church – which no one does. Assuming they have to relocate, 1 Million or the (750K) will not give them nowhere near the amount needed to build a church from scratch (including land to purchase), and since they are downtown I’m sure that landing wouldn’t be easy to find at discounted rate.

      • Completely correct, which is why the city offered $1.5 million, then $2.1 million, and according to news reported this afternoon a final offer of $4 million, all for property assessed at $750k.

        None of which makes ED more palatable.

      • By the way was this an African church or an African-American church? The negotiations did not seem African-American to me (they would have been better at it). They would have gotten their 5M.

    • I’m going to drop some education right now.

      This is a very dumb comment for so many reasons. For one, Russia has a government-focused oligarchy built through state-ownership. If this was Russia, the government would take this land/business and assign a ‘manager/owner’ without compensating the ownership and given no legal recourse.

      In America, a city is trying to attract a major cultural/sporting investment and tried to negotiate a buyout at TWICE market value to fairly compensate this church. The church tried to extort the State–which in Russia would have resulted in deaths–and still have the option of a legal recourse to plead their case.

      Eminent domain is a long-standing tool for cities to manage important aspects of society such as major investments in infrastructure, social utilities, or in more recent history cultural attractions for the community.


      • No, its private property being taken by the state. You are wrong and your repeating that they are being compensated doesn’t make you right.

        It is laughable that you think not wanting to sell your private property is extorting someone who is trying to get it from you.

      • You’re wrong in saying they didn’t want to sell. They were just trying to get an outrageous sum.

      • Doesn’t matter its private property, the state cannot force its sale for another private venture

      • Except that, under the Kelo case, they can do precisely that. If you don’t like that case, that’s fine, but it’s the law.

      • Bach and slow are actually correct as to what the law is following Kelo — which is a horrible decision, in my opinion — but that famous old saw about the U.S. Supreme Court holds true here — “The court is not final because it is infallible; it is infallible because it is final.” A close paraphrase with apologies to the late Associate Justice Robert H. Jackson.

      • Correct, definitely is the law. But I think it’s fair to say that those opposed to the use of eminent domain in this case are making normative arguments – what they think the law should be, what would be just. No one came to this site to get a primer in the current status of eminent domain law, after all, but to argue about what they think it should be.

      • Are you telling me that SBI is not an accredited university?! I thought this was Singapore Business Institute!

      • This was part of the problem, actually. One minute, the church didn’t want to sell. The next day they’d picked out property on the west side of town a few miles north of Universal Studios and were insisting that the city pay for their new property, the construction of their new building that would sit on the new property, and all of the costs of moving the congregation to the new property a few miles west.

        The whole episode was very inconsistent from the church’s side. The only thing the city did was offer progressively larger sums; today’s the first time anyone’s heard that the city offered $4 million, which is almost three times the highest number reported up till now.

      • There is no such thing as private property, you are fooling yourself if you really believe there is. Try to declare your property a sovereign nation and see how long that lasts.

      • No joke. Even easier though, stop paying your property taxes indefinitely and see what happens. Eventually your private property won’t be yours anymore.

      • Either the above two comments are intended as sarcasm, and I just missed the point… or y’all don’t know what “private property” means.

      • These people were just very poorly lead. They could been looking at very nice modern upgrade for the building and land but they choose GREED.

  14. “What do you think of Orlando (the city) finally filing for eminent domain?”

    I don’t like it at all, this is not the correct use of eminent domain to me. I know it’s usage has changed massively over the years but the taking of land from its rightful owners to build commercial buildings is so wrong in my mind. It is one thing if the project will benefit the greater good (freeways, hospitals, etc.) but to do it for a stadium is wrong.

      • The compensation for eminent domain is well known to be a joke. Also they set what their price was (albeit it way too high), they are going to be told it has to be sold for a lesser price, hence why it is essentially being taken from them.

      • They were offered double fair market value. Have you seen that area?

        Go to Google Maps and look at where this church is and what the land is.

      • It doesn’t matter to me, they own the land, they are within their right to determine what they are willing to sell for. If the purchaser doesn’t want to pay it that is fine but to then go use eminent domain for a stadium is not right. I am well aware they asked for an unreasonable sum, but they own the land and can do that if they want.

      • No, they can’t.

        Eminent domain is literally older than our country. It’s a basic, basic element of common law.

        It’s very existence is the basis for so much of our modern society. Without it we would have no major infrastructure.

      • If you look at my original comment you will notice I said I am fine with it for projects that benefit the public like freeways, I do not believe a stadium fits that criteria. Also as a owner of land you are certainly have every right to set the price, and then everyone else has the right to not buy it. The fact you seem to think that the government should determine land values is crazy.

      • Sporting and entertainment stadiums are by definition, cultural infrastructure.

        Again, you’re wrong.

      • You do know just repeatedly saying someone is wrong doesn’t make it true? The economic benefits of stadiums RARELY come close to equally the cost building them, so how is that good for the public at all?

      • Projects like this clearly qualify for eminent domain. If you want to argue that that shouldn’t be, that’s fine but it’s besides the point. Apparently market value for this land is $750k and the church asked for $35m so I don’t see why anyone should feel sorry for them. The city’s final offer was more than five times market value.

      • slow, I don’t particularly feel sorry for them. My issue is entirely with how eminent domain is being used, it has been badly warped from what it’s original purpose was. Things like stadiums, shopping centers, etc. aren’t for the public good to me. I am sure the city will win this and will pay around 1M but that doesn’t mean I agree with it.

      • “The fact you seem to think that the government should determine land values is crazy.”

        reignman you were making a decent argument riiiight up until there. The government absolutely determines land value. Or do you think I can stop paying my property taxes because I think my land should be valued at zero right up until I decide to sell it?

      • sharkbait, you are correct on that one so thanks about that. i guess more what i mean is the government shouldn’t be able to dictate the value of my property in a sale, obviously they do assign a value for tax purposes.

      • Actually Governments don’t determine land value. They typically use comparable sales in the area to determine value. So really the market still determines the value.

        I agree with Reignman though, Eminent Domain is frequently abused and quite frankly I think its being abused here.

        They are basically saying 1 private interest is more important than private interest. That stadium doesn’t “Need” to be there the same way a highway does. It’s convenient rather than necessary.

      • Actually Governments don’t determine land value. They typically use comparable sales in the area to determine value. So really the market still determines the value.

        I agree with Reignman though, Eminent Domain is frequently abused and quite frankly I think its being abused here.

        They are basically saying 1 private interest is more important than private interest. That stadium doesn’t “Need” to be there the same way a highway does. It’s convenient rather than necessary..

      • This use of eminent domain felt suspect to me as well but the more I think about it the more it is consistent with even the examples reignman gave as valid uses of eminent domain.

        Gov shouldn’t support one private interest over another. That said Gov has an interest in the land and infrastructure being developed to improve property taxes. And that development could be seen as public good. Major construction projects like stadiums and major shopping centers could qualify as land and infrastructure development.

        Hospitals are also private, profit driven interests that happen to increase public good.

        Roads and bridges are likely to be public/private partnerships more and more in the future which would make them exactly like a stadium project with a private, profit driven interest working with gov to develop land and make a profit on it and the gov helping the process and in order to increase infrastructure and commerce and so they can set performance and safety requirements among other things.

        The more I think about those other examples, the more it seems using eminent domain for a stadium project is right in line with those other projects.

      • You better take the 4M. The church would probably get ~1M after the judgment. Asking for 15M for a property that is worth <1M is not reasonable.

      • I would be surprised if they got over 1M via the judgement, I completely understand the land isn’t worth what they were asking. However it is their land, thus they can ask whatever they want, at least in my mind they can.

      • Comepletely agree with you reignman. This is a joke. It’s like Wal-mart to steal, I mean appropriate property. As for the wag who said the stadium is cultural infrastructure, cultural infrastructure for a for-profit corporation, get real. The church, if anything, is a higher form of “cultural infrastructure” than the people who want to get drunk and cheer on a team every Saturday during the summer.

      • Hah, true. The Church is just as much “cultural infrastructure” as a soccer stadium.

        I wish the church wasn’t being so childish about this though. Bartering on price makes them look greedy. If they just refused to sell for any price I would be more inclined to support them.

      • Increase: I don’t know the law, but is it possible that the church had to “appear” to be negotiating price in order to avoid an eminent domain charge? If they just refused to sell for any price, then they are “intransigent,” in which case the city has to step in. (Maybe.)

      • I disagree. Will a small church bring in ~15,000 people per week? Building a stadium in that area, where it seems there’s been a bunch of recent development, will only raise the value of nearby land. That benefits everyone. Orlando believes this to be a sound investment in the city, so at least they believe that this stadium will benefit the city.

        The church will sell. They WANT to sell, they just want the most they can get. They’ll take the 4mil and move a mile away and build a bigger, nicer church.

      • K2: This may be a nitpick, but you wrote: “…raise the value of nearby land. That benefits everyone.” Raising the value of surrounding land does not always benefit the landowner. It all depends on what the landowner hopes to achieve with his/her land. This is the basis of the concerns over gentrification, but also applies to industrial-zoned areas.

    • They were trying to rob the Orlando people IMHO. I’ve seen the land and the stadium will do wonders for that place. The building is nothing and the land is worthless unless something is put on it. They were looking for a payday simple. Did they have a right to ask what they did, yes. It just wasn’t smart. If they hadn’t portrayed themselves as crooks they would have gotten 5M in smart negotiations.

    • I agree. Eminent domain is for a public purpose, i.e., highway, hospital, reservoir, power plant, etc. It is an abuse of E.D. to use it to benefit one private landowner at the expense of another.

    • It is being taken. The government may take land for public purposes, but it must pay compensation. All eminent domain proceedings are cases to establish fair compensation for legal government takings.


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