Soccer in Orlando: The good, the bad, the fun, the lies

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Orlando is moving closer to a deal to bring Major League Soccer to town.

That's reason to cheer … and grab your wallet.

There are things to both love and question about this deal. In fact, it's all so complex, I thought I'd break it all down into a simple Q-and-A. The good. The bad. The truth. The lies. And the politics of it all.

Scott, where do you stand on all this?

I'm so glad you asked. I've always said soccer would be a great thing to have in Orlando. It's a dynamic and growing sport. I just don't think taxpayers should be head-butted or crotch-kicked in the process.

How's the deal now?

Better than the original one. The original plan asked taxpayers to pay 73 percent of the cost of a $110 million stadium. The current proposal asks taxpayers to pay 50 percent of an $85 million stadium.

What's that giant thing we already have in Parramore?

Oh, you noticed that? It's a stadium. One that sits vacant most of the year — and that we're spending about $200 million to renovate.

Why can't we just play soccer there?

We could — if we fixed it up. And $200 million could do an awful lot of fixing. Several other teams have multiuse stadiums. But Major League Soccer prefers soccer-only stadiums. And while leaders in other cities pushed back, mayors Teresa Jacobs and Buddy Dyer rolled over and played dead on this front.

Wouldn't soccer be good for the economy?

You bet. Boosters and their for-hire economists exaggerate the numbers. (Reputable studies show new sports venues also cannibalize and compete against existing entertainment options.) But it would definitely help — and be a nice community amenity to boot.

Will a new stadium spur redevelopment nearby?

Boosters claim it's guaranteed. To vet that claim for yourself, stroll around the empty lots and rundown houses around the Citrus Bowl and former Amway Arena. It was guaranteed there, too.

OK, Scott, when you say things like that, I start thinking you hate soccer. Do you hate soccer?

Yes. And puppies. And sunshine. And Hello Kitty.

Are you serious?

No, doofus. Soccer's a great sport. I played it as kid. So have my kids. And the whole Maxwell clan has watched the team play in their current home at the Citrus Bowl. But people who substitute pompoms for financial sense should be cheering from the sidelines, not controlling the public's purse strings.

Wait a minute, the team plays at the Citrus Bowl NOW?

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THE EDITORIAL BOARD


Andy Green, the opinion editor, has taken the "know a little bit about everything" approach in his time at The Sun. He was the city/state editor before coming to the editorial board, and prior to that he covered the State House and Baltimore County government.

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