Orlando city commissioner Fred Brummer says that any economic impact from an MLS team in Orlando will be nominal at best. Orlando Sentinel reports:
An accountant by trade, Brummer says the economic impact numbers provided by Orlando City Soccer Club President Phil Rawlins, the man behind the successful effort to get a soccer stadium built and an MLS franchise awarded, are concocted. Rawlins cites a study that claims a new soccer stadium and the resulting MLS franchise would produce $1.2 billion of economic impact over the next 30 years. In contrast, Brummer seems to think the soccer stadium is a sucker stadium from a financial standpoint.
What Mr. Brummer fails to realize is that having some positive economic impact is better than having negative economic impact. And, without a new stadium, that is precisely where Orlando is headed. The article continues: “In the sports world, if you want to be a big-league city, you have to build venues to attract teams. If you don’t, another city will.” If you don’t, another city will. Sound familiar? Those with extensive sports knowledge might remember this happening half a century ago.
The Detroit Pistons have been a successful professional basketball franchise since 1957. The Pistons, however, began playing professional basketball in 1941 as the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons. Fred Zollner owned a piston plant, hence the name, and the team actually played much earlier but they played baseball, not basketball.
The team won two championships in Fort Wayne and had a good and loyal fan base. In the mid 1950’s, Mr. Zollner asked Fort Wayne to build a new, larger, up to date stadium to support larger crowds and also increase revenue. The city refused. Mr. Zollner moved his team to Detroit in 1957 where a new stadium was built. That stadium that Mr. Zollner asked the city of Fort Wayne to replace over half a century ago is still the same stadium used by the minor league basketball team that calls Fort Wayne home.
Does Orlando want to follow in Fort Wayne’s footsteps? Obviously not since the city voted to approve the money necessary for the new stadium. It appears that some people on the city commission realize the long term positive impact that Mr. Brummer is unable to grasp. Trust me, in 50 years, we don’t want to look back and wonder what would have happened if that MLS team that’s now playing in Jacksonville would have stayed here in Orlando.