Orlando City Soccer Club announced today that it will relocate the club's future soccer-specific stadium one block west of the original site.
Relocating the stadium will put an end to a land dispute between the city of Orlando and the Faith Deliverance Temple, a local church which had refused to sell a parcel of land at the previous location. The dispute had made national headlines and was headed toward an eminent domain hearing later this summer.
The land battle had become something of a public-relations bugaboo for the team as it was often portrayed as government infringing on the rights of a family-owned church. The team will be happy to put this episode behind them and finally get started with the stadium's construction.
There have already been significant delays to the stadium's construction schedule. The $125 million venue was originally slated to open in 2015 during the club's inaugural MLS season. That date was pushed back to 2016 when the church balked at the city's $4 million offer. Moving the site west is not expected to delay construction further.
"The new location allows us to remain on schedule to play our matches with the home opener in 2016," said team President Phil Rawlins in a statement.
Despite relocating the stadium, the overall design of the venue as first released to the public in June should not change significantly. In fact, according to the team, the new location will "enhance the matchday experience" by allowing for additional amenities, facilities, and future development.
Today's announcement came as a surprise. Although it had been reported in July that the city of Orlando had purchased land parcels to the west of the previous site , there had been no indication the team or city were willing to budge from their original plan. Nonetheless, at today's presentation Phil Rawlins called the new plan a "win-win-win."