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Orlando likely to land MLS expansion team

The SportsXchange

Major League Soccer is coming to Central Florida.

With the Orange County board of commissioners approving their part of a funding plan to build an 18,000-seat soccer stadium Tuesday, the United States' top soccer league is expected to award an expansion franchise to Orlando.

The area proved its soccer passion by producing record crowds for Orlando City, which plays in the USL Pro league, the third tier of U.S. club soccer.

"We're looking at a four- to six-week window to get the documentation finished up, to get a franchise agreement finalized and for an announcement to be made," Orlando City club president Phil Rawlins told the Orlando Sentinel.

The new stadium could be open in time for the 2015 MLS season, Rawlins said.

According to the Sentinel, the $84 million stadium will receive $20 million in tourist taxes from the county, the amount included in a larger appropriations bill Tuesday, plus $20 million from Orlando, $2 million from Seminole County and lesser amounts from other public jurisdictions. The team's construction bill will be $30 million.

The commissioners approved the measure 5-2, the minimum amount of votes needed for the funding to proceed.

MLS currently has 19 teams, with New York City FC and Orlando FC likely to join in two years. The league previously stated its plan to expand to 24 teams. Miami is considered a top expansion target, with retired English soccer star David Beckham possibly in line to own the team. Atlanta also could join the league.

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