Miami MLS stadium plan developing

Proposed Miami soccer stadium location

We have the first details about a potential Miami MLS stadium plan, as David Beckham’s investment group and the city of Miami are reviewing a draft stadium agreement.

The agreement calls for a 30,000-seat stadium — a capacity too small for University of Miami Hurricanes football games, though the school has been frequently mentioned as a potential partner for the MLS group — on 10.5 acres of land located next to Marlins Park in the Little Havana neighborhood. (Yes, this is the former Orange Bowl site.) There have been several different arrangement floated by city and county officials, including the establishment of a redevelopment agency to oversee the project. The latest Miami MLS stadium plan, however, includes an interesting twist: using the school district as a way to avoid property taxes on the project. From the Miami Herald:

Under the terms of the agreement, Miami Beckham United or a wholly owned subsidiary would be allowed to build a 30,000-seat stadium on about 10.5 acres of land currently owned primarily by the city. Presuming Beckham’s group follows through with plans to purchase private property located on parts of the proposed stadium site, he and his partners would pay the city a “management fee” of $850,000 a year over an initial term of 60 years, and potentially two additional 20-year terms at the team’s option.

Half of the fee could be paid by a foundation associated with the team’s ownership, and would be used to promote “youth education and athletics,” and to “construct, operate and maintain soccer facilities within the city,” according to the document.

The city, in exchange, would spare Miami Beckham United from paying annual property taxes by deeding 6.5 acres of its land and vacated streets to Miami-Dade County, or — in a new, politically intriguing possibility — the Miami-Dade School Board, both of which have tax-exempt status.

As mentioned, a 30,000-seat capacity won’t be enough to lure the Hurricanes; a college facility these days needs at least 40,000 seats, with 45,000 seats a more accepted minimum. But this is a side issue: David Beckham has promised that a Miami MLS stadium plan would emerge soon, and it has. The question is whether giving land free of property taxes is a good trade for a new stadium totally paid for by the MLS investors.

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August Publications