Florida Construction News staff writer
At a news conference on Tuesday, Williams, founder and president of Orlando City Baseball Dreamers, unveiled artist renderings of a proposed stadium. He focused on four elements to that he says will make an MLB franchise in Orlando a reality: the marketplace, the ballpark, the front office staff, and the owner.
“This market is growing rapidly and growing in all four directions. They tell us a thousand people a day are moving to Central Florida and that doesn’t take into account that this year there’ll be 80 million visitors,” Williams said.
Plans call for the stadium to be constructed on roughly 35 acres in the heart of Orlando’s tourist district, where the Beachline Expressway (SR 528) crosses over International Drive. The complex, which would be south of the toll road and adjacent to SeaWorld Orlando’s Aquatica water park, would ultimately have a pedestrian bridge and walkway connecting it to a SunRail station, should the commuter rail line be extended to the Orange County Convention Center.
“Running a professional sports team is not for amateurs,” Williams said of the front office staff. “You’ve got to have experience running a ball club, and we feel very good about that.
“Usually, it’s the owner who interviews potential employees. In this case, the employees are interviewing the owner to decide what owner we want. I’m not sure that’s ever happened before,” Williams added.
The Dreamers’ proposal calls for $700 million in private funds and nearly a billion dollars in public financing through the Tourist Development Tax (TDT), a resort tax on tourists that brings in millions of dollars for tourism development.
In addition to the ballpark, the complex would also include retail shops, restaurants, office space, 1,000 hotel rooms, and parking garages for approximately 6,700 vehicles.