While news swirled around reports of David Beckham backing a MLS franchise in Dade County and South Florida, Orlando City president Phil Rawlins, and his supporters, never faltered in their quest to bring an expansion franchise to Central Florida.

It was close to a “done deal” after the City of Orlando Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to approve funds for a new downtown soccer stadium. That money would come from the Tourist Development Tax (TDT) funds for several proposed venues, including the soccer stadium.

All that was left was a positive vote by the Orange County Commissioners.  Approval from the county officials was 5-2.  They actually approved a total 94.5 million package to fund assorted projects.

Major League Soccer president Mark Abbott traveled to Orlando to help make the case for the approval to use $20 million in TDTs to help fund the $84 million stadium.  He said all that was missing was approval to help fund the soccer specific stadium in downtown Orlando, and all but said, “build it and we will come.”

As soon as the vote was announced, more than 200 supporters in attendance began chanting, “We are going MLS.”

“The (MLS) ownership group has signed off on it,” Rawlins, said in a report by the Orlando Sentinel.  “We’re looking for a four-to-six week window to get the documentation finished up, to get a franchise agreement finalized and for an announcement to be made.”

MLS is expected to make an expansion announcement in late November, and an Orlando team would take the field in 2015.  The stadium would be ready to open in the summer of that year.

As the cheers resounded in the chambers, Rawlins was emotional when he said, “The voice of the people has been heard.  You can hear it’s an emotional time.  We have the best fans in the country.”

Orlando City has had great success playing in the USL PRO league, winning two of the last three championships.  The 2013 championship game attracted a crowd in excess of 22,000 at the Citrus Bowl.

The stadium will be built a block away from the NBA Orlando Magic’s home at the Amway Center on Church Street in Parramore.

In addition to the $20 tourist tax, $20 million will come from Orlando, and smaller amounts from other jurisdictions.  For instance, Semi

The professional team will pay $30 million of the construction costs and $675,000 a year for the next 25 years.  Those payments will be converted by the city to $10,000 which will be upfront money for construction expenses.

Reports in recent months have said that MLS officials are fairly clear on where three of the next four expansion franchises will be located.  Sports Illustrated put Orlando at the top of the group, that also includes an Atlanta bid by Atlanta Falcons owner Stu Blank.

Miami is also still on the short list, but, unlike Orlando, it is without a stadium commitment.

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