MIAMI – David Beckham’s dream of building a proper home for his Inter Miami faces the gatekeepers of the public land he and billionaire Jorge Mas have chosen.
They plan to develop an 18-hole public golf course with a driving range and clubhouse at the International Links Melreese Country Club, 1802 NW 37th Ave., approximately 130 acres — including a 25,000-seat soccer stadium.
Miami commissioners, meeting Thursday, must decide whether the deal, as it stands, is in the city’s best interest. Mas received a round of applause during the meeting after he said he wanted to “make sure” the city “gets a good deal”.
“This gives you an opportunity to lower a resident’s taxes,” Mas said of the revenue for the city.
Mas said her long-term plan is to have a women’s professional soccer team play at InterMiami’s Fort Lauderdale facility and run educational programs for both boys and girls.
The investors behind the home of Miami’s major league soccer team would have to shell out a lot to move out of their current home in Fort Lauderdale. Mas said he is ecologically rehabilitating the entire park.
To build the stadium they must invest in removing arsenic and lead from the incineration ash used as filler before the golf course was built. During the meeting, Miami Commissioner Ken Russell praised the “incredibly sophisticated” recovery plan.
Mas said he is creating a new public park of 58 hectares. You will have to pay property taxes and the cost of leasing the property on a 99-year no-bid lease. A commercial property that may or may not happen.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who was re-elected in November, has long supported the Miami Freedom Park project. Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla represents District 1, where the public land is located. Commissioner Joe Carollo represents District 3, a contiguous area south of the Dolphin Expressway. Both support the project.
“Let’s be a big city,” said Diaz de la Portilla.
Commissioner Christine King represents District 5, which includes the neighborhoods northeast of the stadium. Chairing the meeting, she said there must be a compliance piece and a requirement for minority ownership in the commercial space.
“I want some of that money to go into District 5,” King said, adding, “What I’m trying to do for my district is create prosperity.”
Carollo said this is “a once in a lifetime opportunity” for the University of Miami Hurricanes. Mas celebrated the closeness UM students would have to the games. Carollo said the location is central and the hotel and retail space will contribute to the project’s success. King welcomed union involvement in the hospitality industry.
Pat Santangelo, a retired Florida Highway Patrol officer and co-founder of the Little Haiti FC children’s soccer club, told commissioners the organization behind the stadium has already supported the children at his club.
Commissioner Manolo Reyes has strongly opposed it, but on Thursday he had a lengthy list of demands for investors, including $5 million for traffic reduction. The Cuban-American represents District 4, less than 10 blocks south of the golf course’s southern boundary.
“My job is to protect people as best I can,” Reyes said.
To oppose the deal, William “Billy Corben” Cohen recently launched the “Don’t Bend Over For Beckham” campaign. The documentary director behind “Cocaine Cowboys” and “The U” recruited David Samson, former president of the Miami Marlins.
“The scheme is worse than the Marlins Park boondoggle,” Cohen wrote in an April 19 tweet that had more than 1,080 shares as of Thursday afternoon.
“Voters overwhelmingly chose the football stadium over the country club. But I won’t vote for a deal if it’s not good for the city,” Russell said wrote on April 23 in response to the opposition campaign.
On November 6, 2018, about 60% of voters approved a referendum that authorized the city to negotiate the 99-year lease for approximately 70 acres with Miami Freedom Park LLC.
During Thursday’s meeting, Carollo condemned the opposition campaign.
“Mr. Samson doesn’t live in town,” Carollo said.
5 p.m. report
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Inter Miami’s reaction to the campaign
Read the draft contract, folks.
• Public funds are used for arsenic remediation
• the rent payment is much lower. In ’18 there was no agreed price, only negotiations
• It’s 130 acres of parkland, read the charter
• Many were sold for a stadium, not other structures
— Daniel Suarez (@SuarezMiami) April 20, 2022
This is an evolving story.
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