Here’s what Orlando’s proposed new MLB baseball stadium would look like
Orlando Magic co-founder Pat Williams plans to hold a media conference on Tuesday afternoon to explain details and release renderings of a proposed new domed baseball stadium he hopes will help lure the Tampa Bay Rays or a Major League Baseball expansion franchise to Central Florida.
The Sentinel obtained one of the photos of the proposed stadium that Williams hopes will be paid for largely by the Orange County Tourist Development Tax (TDT).
Williams has filed an application with the county’s TDT task force asking for $975 million to pay for a stadium project that will cost an estimated $1.7 billion. The project would include a new 45,000-seat domed stadium as well as retail shops, restaurants, office space and 1,000 or so hotel rooms around the stadium. The application calls for the Tourist Development Tax (TDT) funds to pay for $975 million, with the remainder being funded by the MLB team (either the Rays or the owner of an expansion team).
Williams says the plan is to build the new ballpark on a 35½ -acre plot of land next to the Aquatica water park just across International Drive from SeaWorld. According to Williams, an economic and fiscal impact study conducted by JLL, a local firm that specializes in such studies, found that the stadium complex would generate $40 billion of economic impact over the next 30 years.
In an interview with the Sentinel a few days ago, Williams said the TDT is the perfect mechanism to fund a new stadium that would bring Major League Baseball to Orlando. With tourism back in full force after the pandemic, the TDT set a record with more than $360 million in collections last year. The TDT was created and earmarked to fund tourism-related endeavors, and Williams believes a baseball stadium located in the tourist corridor but still close to downtown would be an ideal location.
“Orange County might be the most unique county in America,” Williams said. “Since the pandemic, our tourism has come back and is better than ever – and it’s only going to continue to grow. Our resort [tourist development] tax makes more in one month than Tampa’s resort tax makes in an entire year. We can help build a stadium in ways that other regions cannot.”
Williams has been targeting the Tampa Bay Rays for nearly four years now because the franchise has been unable to get a new stadium built in either Tampa or St. Petersburg. The Rays have been a model franchise in recent years and currently have the best record in baseball but the sixth-worst attendance while playing their games at outdated and out-of-the-way Tropicana Field.
Much like the Rays, the Oakland A’s have unsuccessfully been trying to get a new stadium built and last month announced they were relocating to Las Vegas. That leaves the Rays as only MLB team with an old stadium not up to league standards.
“Orlando is ready for baseball and this is our best and maybe our last chance,” Williams told the Sentinel. “Time is running out on Tampa Bay, and the question is: Can they get a ballpark built? More importantly, can we get a ballpark built?”