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Orlando city skyline


Metropolitan Area: Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Florida

Metro Area Population: 2.69 million people
Metro Area Median Age: 38.5 yrs old
Metro Area Median Household Income: $64,936 (USD)
Other 'Big 5' Franchises in city: Orlando Magic (NBA), Orlando City SC (MLS)
Number of Fortune 1000-equivalent businesses in city: 4
Combined annual revenue of Fortune 1000-equivalent businesses in city: $16.6bn (USD)

Orlando is the largest American TV market without an MLB franchise, a fast growing metropolitan area (by 24% between 2011 and 2021) a popular tourist destination and a perennial expansion contender. Led by former NBA executive and basketball hall-of-famer Pat Williams - who also led the efforts to bring a team to Orlando in 1994 - a group calling themselves the Orlando City Baseball Dreamers are seeking to acquire their city a franchise. They have engaged local businesspeople, baseball bigwigs - both former players and executives - and Orlando citizens in their efforts.

The group have plans for a futuristic stadium and ballpark district. It is estimated to cost an extraordinary $1.7bn, partly funded by what they describe as the "largest private financing in MLB history for a publicly owned stadium", and in part by an estimated $975m from Orange County’s Tourist Development Tax funds.[1] Williams has said that there is "zero chance" of attracting a team without that government funding and argued it was a heavy price but one worth paying for "a state-of-the-art ballpark...that tourists would want to visit it even if there’s no ballgame."[2]

Orange County has not yet publicly responded to Williams' proposal. Even if they approved it there is no guarantee the ballpark would get built, because the outstanding $725m that Williams has said his group would pay has not yet been raised. Williams' application to Orange County responds to the question of "how much have you raised to date for the project" by stating that "additional financing will be completed in concurrence with Orange County funding." [3]

Attracting tourists to the ballpark is something the group is keen to emphasise, because while Orlando has long-standing NBA and MLS teams it has no serious modern baseball heritage, including no active minor league team. It would also become the third MLB team in Florida, alongside the Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays, in a context where both of those teams (which have bigger metro area populations than Orlando) have consistently and severely struggled to draw fans.

Williams has a long background in professional sport and the Orlando market does have some impressive features. But there are less attractive elements to their pitch as well. The group will be hoping that the good outweighs the bad in seeking to convince MLB that they are the right people to be entrusted with a new major league franchise.



TV Market Size
Metro Area Size
Median Household Income
Fortune 1000-equivalent Businesses
Median Age
Minor League Attendance


TV Market Size
Metro Area Size
Median Household Income
Fortune 1000-equivalent Businesses
Median Age


Orlando ballpark rendering
Orlando ballpark rendering
Orlando ballpark rendering
Orlando ballpark rendering

Source: Ballpark Digest and Sports Illustrated, renderings produced by Orlando City Baseball Dreamers. Baseball Expansion claims no copyright or credit for these images.

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