Doral in the Mix for Miami MLS Stadium Site


Land in Doral could be considered for a Miami MLS stadium site, as city officials have confirmed a meeting with the club’s ownership and an MLS executive. 

In January, MLS announced plans for a Miami expansion club that will be backed by an ownership group headlined by David Beckham. Along with Beckham, the club’s ownership includes prominent local businessmen Jorge and Jose Mas, American Idol founder Simon Fuller, SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son and Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure.

Much of the focus on the proposed stadium site had been on Miami’s Overtown neighborhood, with the facility slated for a nine-acre site. However, reports have indicated that the group is broadening its vision for the overall stadium project to include adjacent development, meaning that it could outgrow the Overtown location. Should the effort move away from Overtown, another option could be Doral, where mayor Juan Carlos “JC” Bermudez  confirmed last week that he has met with the ownership group and MLS deputy commissioner Mark Abbott about the site.

The 24-acre Doral site is currently used for a Pepsi distribution center, and was sold in January to companies that are backed by developers David Martin and Stephen Bittel. While this site would place the stadium outside of Miami’s city limits, it is believed to offer an easier path toward development than some options within the city, including the Melreese golf course near Miami International Airport. A project at Melresse could require a voter referendum after city approval, and its proximity to the airport makes it subject to certain regulations. More from The Miami Herald:

“In this transaction, It seems like it would be a cleaner process,” said Doral Vice Mayor Ana Maria Rodriguez , who supports a stadium in the growing suburban city. “And no public money would be expended on it.”

Proximity to MIA brings problems for Melreese as a stadium site.

A recent analysis by the county-owned airport of a potential Melreese stadium noted the golf course is close enough to an MIA runway that a height limit of 70-feet — seven stories — would apply in some areas. The Beckham stadium plan for Overtown had a height of about 100 feet, so the restrictions don’t stand as a deal breaker. But the limits do cap how much extra revenue the Mas brothers could generate from the commercial real estate complex they want to add on to their for-profit stadium.

Jorge Mas has talked of creating some sort of tech hub to boost the economic output of the stadium area — building high-end office space the organization could rent for top dollar near the airport. The complex could include a hotel and convention space, too.

Overtown was revealed as the group’s preferred site in late 2015. A vote last June by Miami-Dade County commissioners allowed the county to proceed with a sale of a three-acre parcel needed to complete the site, but hurdles remain, including approval from the City of Miami over certain aspects of the proposal. In addition, the site’s nine-acre footprint does not leave room for the type of development that has been envisioned, which has contributed to discussions that other sites could be in play.

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