US football team offering visas for stadium investment

The owner of an American football (soccer) team is offering international investors the chance to invest in a stake of his team’s new stadium in exchange for a visa.

Flavio Augusto da Silva, who owns Major League Soccer franchise Orlando City, is planning on using an official US government immigration programme to offer green cards to foreign investors.

The EB-5 visa programme is generally used to obtain funding for large infrastructure projects such as hotels, and this is believed to be the first time the programme has been used to fund a sports stadium.

Orlando City currently play at the city’s Camping World Stadium, better known as the Citrus Bowl. However, Da Silva is planning to build a team-specific US$156 million stadium, albeit without subsidies from Florida lawmakers. The franchise owner expects to cover about half of the construction costs through the visa programme.

For US$500,000 an investor can purchase a stake in the yet-to-be built venue, and will also receive dividends and season tickets. But the real prize is the green card that will allow them and their families to live and work in the US.

“For us, it was a business decision,” Da Silva told the New York Times. “There was already demand from people who want to move to the US, have a green card and have a good opportunity to participate in the growth of the club.”

To date, it is believed that the team already has raised US$15 million with 30 investors through the EB-5 visa scheme.

Article by David Fuller