The Orange County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday voted to approve funds for the construction of a downtown soccer stadium, setting the stage for executives from Orlando City SC to enter "final negotiations" to bring an MLS franchise to Florida, the club announced.
"We are ecstatic about the positive vote," Orlando City president Phil Rawlins said in a press release. "Our fans have been the driving force behind the effort to bring MLS to Orlando. This one is for them."
Officials from Orlando City of USL Pro, the American third tier, have said that a formal announcement from MLS could come as early as next month. Should the franchise be awarded, the club said it will begin play for the 2015 season — the same year New York City FC is entering the league.
Orlando would be the 21st MLS team, bringing the league closer to commissioner Don Garber's vision of 24 clubs by 2020.
"We’d like Orlando to be the next expansion team," MLS president Mark Abbott told the Orlando Sentinel on Monday. "We have in place a number of the factors that we think are needed to be successful, a strong leadership group and a strong fan base. Once we finalize (a stadium deal), we will have a Major League Soccer team here."