Yesterday’s decision to approve a venues package of $94.5 million has stirred up quite a buzz in the city beautiful. The vote, announced Tuesday evening, was passed 5-2, to much community acclaim and relief. The funds provided by this package will go towards civic improvements in the downtown area, underscoring Orlando’s commitment to becoming a world-class city for work and play.
The infusion of capital will benefit the Orlando area through three core improvements:
- $25 million towards a multi-form hall designed to seat 1,700 guests at the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts.
- $12 million towards the Citrus Bowl, earmarked to be applied as part of a $200 million renovation project that will add 5,000 club seats to the stadium’s capacity, and go towards improving stadium amenities (which are currently terrible).
- $20 million will go towards the development of a new soccer stadium, eventually intended to be the home base of the city’s very own Major League Soccer team.
While some might protest the distribution of government funds on these venues, I believe that is a myopic stance to adopt. By backing these city-centered arts and entertainment initiatives, city planners are investing in a rich cultural future for their constituents. These assets will prove invaluable as the city attempts to attract and retain the creative class – the artists, designers, engineers and visionaries who want to live in a progressive city.
In addition to benefitting Central Florida residents directly, it should also stimulate alternate tourist markets, such as those vested in performing arts, professional soccer, and other sporting interests. This, in turn, will help to support ancillary business concerns, such as hospitality, retail and dining. This is a far-reaching investment that will broadly impact the financial futures of the citizens of Orlando. I give the vote a big thumbs up and congratulate Mayor Dyer and his team on their success.