Deadline Looms for Proposed Overtown MLS Stadium Site

Miami MLS Stadium rendering

The Miami MLS ownership group faces a key deadline when it comes a proposed Overtown MLS stadium site, with a payment of nearly $1 million due June 8. 

The nine-acre site in Overtown has been linked to Miami MLS stadium efforts for several years. Last year, Miami-Dade county officials voted to move forward with a sale of three acres of the site for $9 million. Part of that agreement includes a down payment of $901,500 that is to be paid by June 8, but there are questions about whether Overtown will ultimately land the stadium.

The Miami ownership group is headlined by David Beckham, and includes the backing of prominent local businessmen Jorge and Jose Mas, American Idol founder Simon Fuller, SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son and Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure. In recent months, reports have indicated that the group has broadened the scope of its stadium project to include other amenities, meaning that it may need to pursue a larger site. Several other locations–including the city-owned Melreese golf course–have been reported as possible alternatives, but Overtown has not been officially ruled out.

The Overtown plan faces some other questions, including a legal challenge from Bruce Matheson. Attorneys representing the ownership group have previously sought to argue that, with that case still pending, the looming down payment deadline should be waived by the county. More from the Miami Herald:

While Beckham’s new lead partner, Jorge Mas, heads up talks with Miami to build a stadium on a city golf course near Miami International Airport, the group faces a June 8 deadline to make a $901,500 down payment on three acres of county land on a different stadium site in Overtown. Beckham’s lawyers are pressing Miami-Dade to waive the deadline since the 2017 land deal is the subject of a lawsuit, setting up a potential standoff on a payment needed to keep the agreement alive.

Mayor Carlos Gimenez in late April refereed a meeting in his 29th-floor office with county and Beckham lawyers over the looming deadline to extend the closing on a $9 million purchase of the truck depot used by Miami-Dade’s Water and Sewer Department. He said the dispute hasn’t been resolved over whether a lawsuit frees the Beckham group from having to make the next scheduled down payment.

“There was a difference of opinion,” he said of the April 30 meeting in his offices with Mas and lawyers on both sides, which the mayor described as heated. “There was even a difference of opinion within the county.”

The lawsuit by wealthy activist Bruce Matheson challenging the pending sale did not prevent the Beckham group from making the first payment required under the agreement when it delivered Miami-Dade a $450,000 check on Sept. 8 as Hurricane Irma approached Miami. But that deadline arrived before Mas and his brother, Jose, joined the soccer bid as Beckham’s first local partners and promptly began raising private doubts about the wisdom of building a stadium on the Overtown site.

Matheson has sought to argue that the county’s land in Overtown was sold below fair market value and should have been subjected to a bid process, though the county has countered by arguing that Florida economic development law allows it to waive the competitive bidding process if the transaction provides economic benefit. He lost his first legal challenge when his lawsuit was dismissed, but he has since filed an appeal.

As noted, however, the Overtown site has still not been completely ruled out. According to the Herald, county attorneys are slated to join legal representatives of the ownership group “on June 5 before Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal to defend the no-bid land agreement for the county portion of the Overtown site.” MLS announced its approval of a Miami expansion franchise earlier this year.

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