ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Orlando's Major League Soccer team will eventually play its games in a new downtown, soccer-specific stadium, but several Orange County commissioners said Tuesday they felt misled by the MLS after Atlanta was awarded a team that will play in a hybrid football-soccer stadium.
In October, the county commission approved $20 million in tourism taxes to help fund the new $80 million facility that met MLS requirements, which called for 18,000-25,000 seats, a grass playing surface, covered stands and an urban location.
County Commissioner Ted Edwards, who voted against the taxes, said the general understanding among the commission at that time was that Orlando's Florida Citrus Bowl, which had been Orlando City's home since 2011 in the third-tier USL Pro League, was too large and not constructed for soccer.
Last month, MLS awarded Atlanta a new franchise, endorsing its plan to play in a $1.2 billion hybrid soccer-NFL stadium with a retractable roof and artificial turf.
Edwards said he believed Atlanta was allowed to pursue a different kind of stadium.
"From what I'm hearing, most of the commissioners were duped. They weren't provided all of the information," he said.
Several other commissioners also said they thought playing in the Citrus Bowl, which is undergoing a $200 million renovation, was a nonstarter.
The Citrus Bowl renovation is set to be completed next year, and will be Orlando City's home for its first MLS season in 2015. Then they are expected to move to the new soccer-specific stadium.