Eminent Domain

Orlando Plans to Swipe Church Property to Build a Soccer Stadium


Orlando City Soccer Club
Orlando City Soccer Club

What do you do if you have a successful business with a promising future, want to acquire some land as part of the growing process, but can't come to terms with the current owners?

Easy answer: You get some politicans to steal it for you. That's the post-Kelo American way. The Supreme Court said that government officials can take people's land from them and give it to their friends use eminent domain to "benefit the community," and politicians keep doing it with a vengeance.

As in the case of the Orlando City Lions, a promising Major League Soccer expansion team whose owners want a new stadium.

Writes Mark Schlueb at the Orlando Sentinel:

After a year of failed talks, Orlando has filed suit in court to force a family-owned church in Parramore to sell its land to make way for a new Major League Soccer stadium.

If successful, the eminent domain action filed Thursday in Orange Circuit Court would allow Orlando to take the last of 20 parcels needed for the $115 million stadium being built for the Orlando City Lions, an MLS expansion franchise.

Newly released records show the city more than doubled its initial offer for the small, African-American-owned Faith Deliverance Temple, to $4 million.

Members of the family that owns the church reduced their initial selling price from $35 million to $15 million. Even so, the two sides remained far apart.

The city has already used eminent domain for two other properties desired by the team, and the same judge is assigned to this case.

The average Major League Soccer team, reports Forbes, is worth $103 million and growing by leaps and bounds in the increasingly popular sport. Orlando City Lions owners obviously think their already winning team (in its current league) can replicate that sort of profitability. Not only do they have no right to swipe somebody else's property through political proxies; they can afford to invest in their own business.

But why should they negotiate with sellers if they can get political friends to set the price for them?

Hat tip to Jonathan Chapin.

NEXT: Damon Root: Atlantic City Wants to Bulldoze a Home to Benefit a Casino

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Shouldn’t the bad PR be enough to dissuade this practice? WHAT’S WRONG WITH PEOPLE?

    1. This time is different.

  2. You know soccer has joined the big leagues now – 5 years ago if they had walked into City Hall with their hat out, they would have been laughed out the door.

    1. True. I’m just glad the Sounders use CenturyLink just like the Seahawks and have no reason to ask for their own stadium.

      1. no reason to ask for their own stadium

        Well, except turf sucks.

        1. Generally, but CenturyLink has FieldTurf and is supposed to be much more like real grass. But yeah, I got my share of AstroTurf burns playing indoor soccer in the winter when I was a kid.

          1. FieldTurf sucks unless you’re playing in Over-30+ beer leagues, in which case it is immensely preferable to horribly kept-up grass fields that they let Over-30+ beer leagues use.

            FieldTurf makes the professional game unwatchable (save the wisecracks).

            1. In other words, watching a game from Seattle or Portland blows fucking chunks because the pitch is plastic, bouncy shit.

          2. There’s no reason for them to get a separate stadium, but that turf sucks for soccer. The recent US game they had there was abysmal and I doubt US Soccer will approve hosting again. FIFA generally doesn’t allow turf at all for official games.

            1. They’ve done the “temporary grass” thing before and they’ll do it again. The support in Seattle is too strong to abandon that area, much as it pains me to compliment that motley collection of hipsters on something. They never let anyone hear the end of how awesome they are.

              I’m convinced that in about 10 years, the hipsters will have completely dropped soccer as their “we’re so edgy and cool” sport. The only question is, will they have ruined it for the rest of us?

              1. That is weird. God knows NYC sure has a lot of hipsters but few if any of them seem at all interested in soccer. Must be a west coast thing (shudder).

                1. Timon is exaggerating. Most Sounders fans are not hipsters. I know, because I’ve driven through streaming crowds of people going to Sounders games and it’s mostly normal-ish people, kids, and folks who want to be fans of a sport but think football is too meatheaded and baseball is too boring. Sure, there are hipsters too, but they are notoriously low on attention span and don’t do it for long.

                    1. If that is supposed to be a picture of hipsters then the word has lost all meaning.

                    2. Are those scarves? If so, a little hipster-ish, but not enough to classify those guys as hipsters.

                    3. Scarves are a long time soccer tradition and have nothing to do with hipsters.

                    4. Scarves have zero to do with hipsters. It’s a soccer thing, period.

                    5. If that is supposed to be a picture of hipsters then the word has lost all meaning.

                      Unfortunately, when the go to the game, the lose their pork-pie hats and deep vees. All you’re left with is the product in the hair with the little fauxhawk hair flip in front.

                      And no, the scarves don’t make them hipsters– that’s the Sounders fan uniform.

                      Although I do admit a lack of don’t-these-make-me-look-intense tats.

                2. I remember sitting in the Bronx next to a hipster lady at rugby, which she thought was cool & coming. She also liked the currency with the large, off-center portraits, which had just come out.

              2. The temporary grass was shit, but you are probably right. Though, support for the national team is widespread, I don’t think Seattle’s is somehow far ahead.

                The Dynamos supporters doesn’t appear to me to have much of a hipster element, just a combination of hispanics, families and people like me for whom soccer has always been the preferred sport. Plus it’s cheap as fuck compared to anybody else but the Lastros, and nobody wants to watch the Lastros.

            2. God I thought the camera was stuck in slo-mo or something when I was watching that.

      2. and have no reason to ask for their own stadium.

        When you you become naiive?

        1. Did you

        2. Just recently.

          But seriously, the Sounders, while popular, are not big enough to demand their own stadium, so it’s just not going to happen. If anyone gets a new stadium it’ll be a newly-bought basketball or hockey team. And we’ll end up paying for it, as usual.

          1. The Sounders have the highest attendance in the league by a wide margin – and most other teams already have their own stadium.

            1. Yeah, but there is no way in hell they’re going to get the money and space to build another stadium right next to CenturyLink and SafeCo (which is where a potential basketball/hockey stadium would go). And anywhere else ceases to have the extreme convenience of CenturyLink.

              I could be wrong, but from an insider Seattle perspective I just do not see it happening. People will look at CenturyLink and go “you have a stadium that’s good enough for the Seahawks, and you want a new one?” without caring or knowing about the turf issue.

              1. Or they could build in east bumfuck like so many other franchises… Chicago, Philly, KC, to name a few.

                1. One of the reasons their attendance is as high as it is is that CenturyLink is walking distance from downtown, Belltown, Pioneer Square, Capitol Hill, and First Hill. Put it in east bumfuck and you lose that, which is why they’re not complaining about using CenturyLink. Seattle’s stadiums are really well located for going to games, getting loaded, hitting bars before and after, and not having to drive.

                  1. This. No one is going to drive to east lake sammamish for a soccer game.

          2. In Chicago, the MLS team wanted its own stadium BECAUSE they aren’t popular enough to fill the football stadium. Some stupid suburb suckered themselves into building one for them.

            1. Bridgeview. So named because literally the only thing of note in the city is a view of a shitty, crumbling Chicago bridge.

              1. Bridgeview? I’ve never even heard of that one, and I lived in Chicago for three years.

            2. That didn’t seem to stop the Sting from playing at Soldier, Wrigley, and Comiskey.

          3. Are you kidding? They’d fill a 25-30000 seater easily until all the hipsters get bored of the sport.

    2. Back when “Cleveland” was on the verge of getting a team (right up to the point they had the commissioner’s go-ahead and full funding secured), local NIMBYs told Wolstein to go pound sand, even though his company owned every bit of the land it was to be on.

  3. A vindictive person might dump a few hundred gallons of fuel oil on the site and declare bankruptcy. Let the new owners pay for the cleanup and take them to court to make sure they do.

    1. I’m starting a business trapping small endangered mammals to sell to people about to lose their land to ED. Take the cash then release the animal and call whoever prevents all development on the critter’s habitat.

      1. I’d like to get in on the ground floor of that.

        1. Is there a newsletter to subscribe to?

      2. I’m pretty sure this is in the Center for Biological Diversity playbook.

  4. I’m on the side of the church in this story, but given the disparity in the asking price and the offer, this article would benefit from a mention of the fair value of the church’s land.

    1. The fair value is what a willing buyer and a willing seller agree to.

      To the owners, its at least $15MM right now. It might be lower later.

  5. I think $15M is too low considering how much the stadium owners stand to profit over the life of the stadium.

    With the reality of a post-Kelo world, if you’re going to take someone’s property, fuck you very much for offering “current market value”.

  6. Fair market value = the price the owner is willing to voluntarily agree to a sales contact and not one penny less.

    1. That is one possible definition of market value. Leaving how egregious this case is aside, why should one person make a windfall at the expense of his neighbors?

      1. Expense? Care to explain?

        1. Cases like this don’t demonstrate it clearly, but take railroads or pipelines. A great many people benefit from these being built, but one or two holdouts can drive down the benefit for others by increasing costs to build them. It’s a species of the collective action problem.

          1. at the expense of his neighbors?

            A great many people benefit from these being built

            Lack of benefit is not an expense.

            1. Ludwig von Mises and Ronald Coase would disagree — acknowledging that public good problems exist and are hard doesn’t mean you can’t be a libertarian. I don’t have time to explain macroeconomics to you, but you might try registering for a class one day and thinking through the problem.

          2. Buy options on real estate? They’re a thing, and allow the purchaser to get multiple alternative paths drawn out at a lower price.

  7. If you like your church, you can keep your church.

  8. While they did use city funds for the Dynamo’s stadium(though only a small portion, and the stadium is much cheaper than toyota center or Reliant NRG Stadium) at least they did it in a dump of an area without stealing any property. And that dump has actually developed a lot, though that was almost certainly happening anyways stadium or not.

  9. Pardon my christfag, but if the church isn’t paying property taxes like every other property in the area, then it’s essentially public property already.

    1. How do you figure the church isn’t paying property taxes? Assuming it’s designated 501(c)(3), all that means is the church, as a distinct entity, doesn’t pay corporate taxes and donations to it are tax deductible. But any of its paid employees would still pay individual income taxes and they’d also most likely have to pay local property taxes.

      1. The use of the word “if” means I don’t know for sure if the church is paying property taxes or not. I know the churches in MY town don’t, but every state and municipality is slightly different.

    2. How does legally not paying property taxes mean that your property belongs to the public?

      1. By “legally not paying property taxes” you mean “by government fiat not paying property taxes.” I seriously doubt the church has allodial title to its property.

    3. Wut?

    4. See, to me, the properties that are required to pay taxes are more “public” property than those that aren’t. Because the “public” is entitled to revenue off the taxable properties, but has no such claim on the tax exempt properties.

      1. See, to me, parks, police HQ, and city hall aren’t paying property taxes on their land and they are public properties.

  10. Public purpose!

    Wait, haven’t we been here before today?

  11. That story is a series of depressing taxpayer links. Orlando is paying $80M and getting another $30M in state tax rebates to build the soccer stadium. While it’s being built the team will play in the Citrus Bowl which is undergoing a $200M renovation paid by tourist taxes. The renovation will force the teardown and rebuild of a baseball stadium, Tinker Field, at a $3M cost. That sounds low since the Orlando suburb of Winter Park is upgrading a baseball stadium for $22M. 20% of that being paid by the city and the rest coming from “private” sources: the college that owns the current stadium and land, and the minor league team that is moving in. However $9M of the private funding is expected to be recouped from a federal tax credit for blighted neighborhoods. (A blighted college campus in Winter Park?). And then weep for Brevard County who is losing their tenant to the Winter Park stadium and being stuck with a 2,800 seat baseball stadium that will be used, at most, only during Spring Training.

    1. $110 million of public funds? Are there any private contributions as well? Fuck. BBVA cost $95 mil with $20 mil in public funds.

    2. 80 million is coming from the owner Flavio, with the extra 30 million coming from a sales rebate tax that will be charged at the stadium. City of Orlando is supplying the land and infrastructure.

      1. Check the receipts and reimbursements on this construction job. This article says Flavio is putting up $40M for the new stadium, Orlando $20M (the tourist tax) and surrounding jurisdictions the rest, which, if the estimated stadium cost is $110M would be another $50M, I’m assuming in taxes. The $80M figure you have for Flavio (and the other owners) could be the separate MLS expansion fee which the article puts at $70M.

  12. 2 in a row isn’t nice guys. Can’t you put a cop-shoots-dog/person story in between, just to change where the pain is?

  13. Still strikes me as weird that Tampa lost its team and Orlando is getting one. Tampa is much bigger and has a substantial Hispanic population. Though maybe this scam helps explain that.

    1. The Orlando team has had some of the best attendance in USLPRO. MLS has had success lately building off of existing lower league fan bases.

      1. I’ve gone to games for the local team. It’s very weird watching a team called the Rowdies in a league called the NASL and it not being a major league team.

        1. The Rowdies still exist? The NASL still exists?!

          1. Only the names–that’s the weird part.

  14. I can’t see why someone would pay millions of dollars to watch kids play soccer. What’s next, a dodge ball arena?

    1. Association Football (soccer) is a real sport that is played by men and woman at a high level around the world, it is also the most attended sport in the world. the players have to actually be athletic, not just big and fat to push each other around. Much more fun to watch than tubby men struggling to move around a field with lines everywhere and only a handful of athletic players that can throw or catch.

      1. Oddly, one can like and defend soccer without hating other sports. For instance, I like soccer. I also like football, baseball, and hockey. And college hoops.

        1. I like all sports, football the least though. Probably because im a Bucs fan. People just like to make the comment that soccer players are wimps or kids, that obviously is not true.

          1. No, it’s not. The problem, to the extent that there is one, is that people can easily pick up basic soccer. Being good at it and being in shape to compete in it is something else altogether. But I think that makes some blow it off for that reason.

          2. Two words: magic spray.

            Note, i pkayed in HS and follow the epl. But the wimp tag sticks for a reason.

      2. If you think wide receivers and cornerbacks are tubby and struggling to move you need to get your head examined. Like ProL said, engaging in SPORT WAR is fucking retarded. They’re all professional athletes who have to be in various forms of excellent shape.

        1. I vividly recall seeing a lineman who weighed around 300 pounds running a 40 a good bit under 5 seconds. It’s amazing to see someone who looks like he’s out of shape do that.

          1. See also: Levon Kirkland.

            6 Ft, 300 lbs ILB- and covering receivers 30 yds down field.

  15. I actually live in Orlando, and a soccer stadium is going to be MUCH better than the deserted graffiti covered warehouses, empty lots, and one little crappy looking church that has 20 people show up every Sunday. That block has been a blight for 20 years, lets get Parramore cleaned up and this can be the start of it. The church had a more than a fair offer, 4 times what its worth is a reasonable offer. They are just trying to scam the city out of 11 million because they know what will take their place will be much more beneficial to the community.

    1. The stadium for Tampa’s junior league team is a baseball stadium in downtown St. Pete. It’s actually a really nice location, with a great view of the bay. Of course, it’s not really designed for soccer viewing, which I hear is becoming a bone of contention.

      1. …The Rowdies?…lol. They suck, and their “soccer” stadium is operated by the St Pete baseball commission. The Field is in “F” condition. There has been a fight between the Rowdies and the SPBC recently, and if the Rowdies cant bring their field up to the leagues standards they may be forced to fold or move. Anyways what does Al Lang Field have to do with my comment?

        1. Well, the Rowdies actually won their championship last year, so suck is a relative term.

          The field is being fought over now, as I said, and I think the Rowdies are asking that the field be dedicated to soccer. Don’t know how that’ll play out.

          As for subsidizing stadiums of any kind, I’m 100% opposed to it. I don’t care what sport it is.

          1. Actually they won the championship 2 years ago. Didn’t make the playoffs last year.

            As for subsidizing stadiums, I agree but Orlando City Soccer Club is paying for a large chunk of the stadium and has already payed an 80 million dollar admission fee into MLS. Plus the taxes being used are tourist tax dollars, something Orlando and Orange County have a lot of but cant spend on public infrastructure like roads and schools.

    2. a soccer stadium is going to be MUCH better than the deserted graffiti covered warehouses, empty lots, and one little crappy looking church

      You’re willing to kill people because of that?

      1. What??

        1. Any State action is a step down the road to killing people. Because if you don’t submit, that’s where it will end.

          The state eminent domains your house.

          You refuse to cash their check and leave.

          They get a court order.

          You refuse the court order.

          They send the cops to enforce the court order.

          You tell the cops to piss off.

          They send the SWAT team. At that point, you leave or you’re killed.

          See how this works?

          1. See how this works?

            Wait, so you’re saying that every government edict, no matter how trivial, is ultimately backed up with the threat of lethal violence? Who knew!

          2. See, there’s one problem with your thought. I’m actually smart enough to accept the deal and let them build on, it may be screwed up but that’s the way it is. My dad had a house taken from him for them to add a exit ramp for a highway, he took the money (which was AT MARKET VALUE, not above as Orlando offered) built a new house and moved on. Another friend of mine lost half of his property to a road extension. Its not like they give you nothing with IE, but the church would have been better off taking the deal before they were forced to take it by IE. I feel for the owners, but they had plenty of opportunity’s to take 4 million dollars, more than enough to rebuild something the same size.

            1. I feel for the owners, but they had plenty of opportunity’s to take 4 million dollars, more than enough to rebuild something the same size.

              So in other words, they were made an offer they couldn’t refuse.

              Back to the question that someone else asked you a few minutes ago: you would be willing to see these people murdered in order to transfer the property to the soccer people?

            2. See, there’s one problem with your thought. I’m actually smart enough to accept the deal and let them build on

              The fact that YOU would accept the deal means that the state won’t use force?

              Its not like they give you nothing with IE

              So it’d be cool if they gave the owners $19 for the church?

              more than enough to rebuild something the same size

              Size is all that matters? I can live with that. *adjusts crotch*

    3. That’s nice.

      So you have no objection to the State seizing anything from anyone, whenever they say that its for the public good?

      Be careful. You never know when it will be your shit they decide to take.

      Me today, you tomorrow.

      1. Already happened before, nice try though.

      2. Me today, you tomorrow.

        That’s exactly what he was saying. Well maybe it was “Me yesterday, you today”.

    4. The church had a more than a fair offer . . . they know what will take their place will be much more beneficial to the community.

      I might agree that a shiny new soccer stadium will be more profitable to the community than some run-down old church. Still, at the risk of sounding quaint, that leaves us with the issue of one entity stealing another entity’s property, and backing up their crime with the threat of lethal violence.

      1. I would never agree that a shiny new soccer stadium will be more profitable to the community than some run-down old church. The fact that ED is being invoked pretty much guarantees that it will overall be a net drain on community revenue.

  16. God will have her revenge.

    1. I’ll take the rest of her.

  17. The trouble is that in big cities now (probably worldwide with few exceptions), th only way they’ll let you have any kind of large development is in some kind of partnership with gov’t. E.D. is just one part of that reality.

    1. The phrase “public use” has generally meant, until Kelo, the property taken would be removed from the property tax rolls because it will be owned by government for at least a couple decades.”

      Now the courts have bastardized the term “public use” to mean “in the hopes of increased tax revenue” which means taking from one non-government entity for the immediate transfer to another non-government entity. AKA government-sanctioned theft.

      At some point you allow so many exceptions to be carved out of the principle that you eventually wind up with no principle left.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.