“Until you get a baseball team, you’re not a big league city.”– PAT WILLIAMS
A team led by NBA exec Pat Williams, the man who is credited for bringing The Magic to Orlando, really wants the City Beautiful to have a baseball team too, and according to some fancy math on his team, having a Major League Baseball team could bring in an estimated $40 billion to the region over 30 years.
Williams is hoping to create a billion-dollar stadium in order to lure the Tampa Bay Rays, or a franchised extension, to Orlando and he held a press conference this week to pitch some early details and renderings to drum up some hype and put some pressure on Orange County to loosen up their purse strings.
Williams filed an application with the Tourist Development Tax task force asking for $975 million to pay for his hopeful 45,000-seat stadium, which currently has a projected cost of $1.7 billion. The remaining piece in the funding puzzle would hopefully be paid for by the owner of the new team or The Rays if they could seduce them to move to Central Florida – a task that would be a bit easier if Williams’ stadium gets built.
The Rays have been unable to build their own stadium in the Tampa area and have been forced to host their home games at the albeit, less than modern, Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
If Orlando is unsuccessful at convincing The Rays to move, they would have to bid against steep competition like San Antonio, Mexico City, and Salt Lake City for just two new franchises, so getting a team that’s nearby to simply relocate could be an easier bet – if Orlando really wants to have a professional baseball team that is.
According to the renderings, which you can see below, Williams’ new stadium would sport a clear dome, office space, restaurants, and retail, as well as 1,000 new hotel rooms on the property, located on a 35-acre lot near Aquatica on International Drive.
Williams even has a name for the new team, the “Orlando Dreamers.”