Photo:Orlando City Soccer Club will have total control over revenue from its new stadium. The team is playing this year in the Florida Citrus Bowl.
Central Florida Roundup
Goal! Orlando's pro soccer team forgoes public funding for a new stadium
When Florida lawmakers failed to agree this spring on plans to help build and renovate four pro sports stadiums around the state, the Orlando City Soccer Club faced a big problem. The Major League Soccer expansion franchise was forced to delay construction of a $115-million, soccerspecific stadium in downtown Orlando because the plan relied on $30 million from the state, along with city and county funds.
The team’s response? It decided to pay for the new stadium itself.
In late May, the Lions, owned by Brazilian businessman Flavio Augusto da Silva, announced plans for a privately funded and operated facility. The team will buy the land that the city had already purchased for the stadium and reimburse the city for money it has already spent on site preparation.
The city, which would have owned the stadium under the original plan, will save an estimated $15 million. Orange County will save $20 million, and the state will save $30 million.
The Lions will get total control over their new home field, including any money from naming rights, concession sales and events such as international soccer matches or concerts.
The team says the revised stadium will also be bigger, with room for between 25,000 and 28,000 fans per game (up from 19,500 in the original plans). The club has proven to be a huge hit since debuting earlier this year, averaging more than 37,000 fans per game during its first half-dozen home contests.
Nemours Children’s Hospital President Roger Oxendale, who oversaw the construction and opening of the $400-million hospital in Orlando’s Lake Nona Medical City community, will retire at the end of the Year. Dana Nicholson Bledsoe, a former president of Sacred Health’s Children’s and Women’s Hospital in Pensacola, assumed leadership in July.
The Central Florida Expressway Authority named Laura Kelley executive director. Kelley, who had been running the toll road agency on an interim basis, is the first female chief executive of the authority, which was previously known as the Orlando- Orange County Expressway Authority.
SeaWorld Entertainment named chief accounting officer Marc Swanson its interim CFO to replace Jim Heaney, who left the company to become CFO of Carnival Cruise Lines.
Spotlight -- Court-Ordered Protection
The direct-support organization that runs the University of Central Florida’s athletics department is entitled to the same sovereign immunity protections as the university itself, according to a Florida Supreme Court ruling that helps shield similar athletics organizations at other universities from lawsuits. A trial court had ordered UCF Athletics Association to pay $10 million to the family of Ereck Plancher, a former UCF football player who died during a team practice in 2008. But because the Supreme Court ruled that it was entitled to sovereign immunity, the organization is only liable for $200,000 of that award. Any additional money will have to come from the Florida Legislature through a claims bill.
Annual theme park attendance estimates released in June show that Universal Orlando continues to gain market share.
APOPKA — The Central Florida Expressway Authority began construction of the first section of the Wekiva Parkway, the final leg of a toll-road beltway around Orlando.
DAYTONA BEACH — Volusia County commissioners voted to further curb driving on Daytona Beach, including designating traffic-free zones behind planned Hard Rock and Westin hotels.
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER — The U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame will move into a new location at the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex and become part of a new attraction that will open next year.
LAKE BUENA VISTA — Duke Energy and Walt Disney World announced plans for a 20-acre solar array in the shape of Mickey Mouse’s head. The solar farm is expected to open by the end of the year. > A judge allowed a lawsuit to go forward that was filed by the widow of a Walt Disney World employee who was killed while performing maintenance on a roller coaster. Disney argued that the suit should be prohibited under the state’s workers’ compensation statutes.
LEESBURG — By a 3-2 vote, commissioners in this small city in northern Lake County approved an ordinance prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
MAITLAND — Business-software firm Viewpost, which received incentives last fall as part of an expansion, laid off an undisclosed number of workers.
ORANGE CITY — Newton, Mass.-based Northland Investment bought the 316- unit Grandeville on Saxon apartment complex for $30.4 million.
ORLANDO — Homeownership in metro Orlando declined 4. 27% between 2010 and 2013, the steepest drop in Florida and the fourthsteepest in the nation, according to the National Association of Realtors. > The 21-story Regions Bank Tower in downtown Orlando sold for $51 million to DRA Advisors and Tower Realty Partners. > Brazilian low-cost carrier Azul will begin flights in November between Orlando International Airport and Belo Horizonte, Brazil. The airline, founded by former JetBlue founder David Neelman, began flying between OIA and Sao Paulo last year. > Hospital operator Orlando Health chose a joint venture between CNL Commercial Real Estate and Crescent Communities to redevelop its Lucerne Pavilion just south of downtown into a new mixed-use project. Central Florida bus agency Lynx began construction on a 2.1-mile extension of its free downtown circulator, dubbed “Lymmo,” which will add nine stops when it begins service next year at a cost of $16.25 million. Universal Orlando said it will open a new water park, dubbed “Volcano Bay,” in 2017. > Organizers of the Fringe Festival, an offbeat series of performances held annually in Orlando, say the 2015 edition set a record for ticket sales.
WINTER PARK — New Yorkbased White Eagle Property Group purchased The Parks at Laurel Oaks, a 552-unit, gated apartment complex, for $54 million.