By Paul Kennedy
David Beckham's appearance at Game 5 of Heat-Pacers NBA playoff series alongside Bolivian billionaire Marcelo Claure may have caught all the headlines on the MLS expansion front post-NYCFC, but there was other expansion news out of Florida on Thursday.
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, who has publicly been lukewarm at best to the downtown Orlando soccer stadium project, said in a letter to Orlando City SC president Phil Rawlins on Thursday that she is now "fast-tracking" the project.
"We are very sensitive to the [Major League Soccer] ownership position, and the new sense of urgency attached to your negotiations," Jacobs wrote. "Rest assured that I have directed Orange County's staff to complete their due diligence as quickly as possible."
The Orlando soccer stadium project -- and all Florida sports stadium projects for that matter -- suffered a setback when the Florida legislature did not vote on a state sales tax measure that would have funded $30 million of the estimated $110 million the soccer stadium is expected to cost.
Another big chunk the Orlando MLS group has sought is $25 million in hotel taxes from Jacobs' Orange County Commission.
Jacobs isn't set to sign off on authorizing use of the hotel taxes for the soccer stadium. She first wants Visit Orlando, the local tourism board, to analyze the impact the stadium would have on local tourism.
The Orlando MLS group and city of Orlando (through its purchase of land) would pay for the rest of the costs of building the stadium.
CENTENNTIAL PARTY AT NIKE GEORGETOWN. U.S. Soccer is holding a U.S. national team event Friday night at Nike Georgetown to kick off U.S. Soccer's weekend centennial celebrations. The USA hosts Germany Sunday at RFK Stadium.
BAYERN MUNICH-BORUSSIA DORTMUND RATINGS. FOX's coverage of the 2013 UEFA Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund drew a 1.0 overnight rating. Despite the all-German final being one of the most exciting matches in recent years, the rating is the lowest in the four years of FOX coverage.
FOX Champions League Final Overnight Ratings:
RATING YEAR: MATCH
1.0 2013: Bayern Munich-Borussia Dortmund
1.3 2012: Chelsea-Bayern Munich
1.8 2011: Barcelona-Manchester United
1.1 2010: Inter Milan/Bayern Munich
-- In Germany, 21.61 million viewers watched the game on ZDF -- a German television record for a club match -- for a 62 percent share.
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