Former Magic exec pushing to bring MLB team to Orlando

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The man who helped bring professional basketball to central Florida is trying once again to lure a Major League Baseball team to the Orlando area.

Former Orlando Magic executive Pat Williams has filed an application with an Orange County, Florida, advisory committee that is contemplating how to spend revenue from a tourist-tax collections. Williams on Tuesday unveiled renderings of a proposed domed ballpark he hopes lures the Tampa Bay Rays or another team to the Orlando area.

Williams said the proposed stadium would cost $1.7 billion, of which he hopes revenue from the county's tourist tax would pay for $975 million. Tourist tax collections have rebounded after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Williams first explored bringing an MLB team to the Orlando area in 2019 when he proposed a name for the team -- the Dreamers -- and unveiled a red baseball cap with a black "O" as the logo.

St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch in January announced plans for a partnership between the Rays and the Houston-based Hines development company to build a ballpark near the current Tropicana Field, a proposal that is pending.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has said expansion will not be considered until the Rays and Oakland Athletics get new ballparks in place. The A's said last month they signed an agreement to purchase land for a stadium in Las Vegas, but financing for the ballpark has not been agreed to.