Proposed Miami MLS Stadium Terms Revised; Status Still Uncertain

Miami MLS Stadium rendering

Terms of a proposed Miami MLS stadium have been revised, but its fate remains uncertain ahead of a key Wednesday morning meeting. 

The Miami MLS expansion franchise is backed by a group that is headlined by David Beckham, and also features prominent local businessmen Jorge and Jose Mas, American Idol founder Simon Fuller, SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son and Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure. In order to build a facility that is attached to a larger development concept, the group is pitching the construction of a new stadium and surrounding amenities at the site of the city-owned Melreese Country Club.

Miami City commissioners were expected to vote last week on whether to send the proposal to the November voter ballot, but that decision was pushed back in order to continue negotiations. Two commissioners were in favor with two opposed, leaving Commissioner Ken Russell as the swing vote. Ahead of Wednesday morning’s meeting, the city and the MLS group have revised some terms of the agreement. Among the key points of the revised plan include language specifying that the MLS group will pay for environmental remediation of the site, modified calculation for the lease payment, an on-site driving range accessible to the youth golf program First Tee, and a $5 million contribution to complete the Baywalk and Riverwalk.

Russell, however, is still voicing some concerns about the proposal, primarily as it pertains to living wages for on-site employees. More from the Miami Herald:

[Jorge] Mas met with Russell on Tuesday evening for a discussion that stretched late in the night. Early Wednesday, Russell told the Miami Herald he had not received all of the concessions he demanded and wants to continue the discussion at Wednesday’s meeting.

“Unfortunately so far, they have not agreed to ensure that all on-site employees would receive a living wage,” Russell said. “I look forward to continuing the discussion on the dais.”…

Russell said the late night session, which included his staff, Mas, Mayor Francis Suarez and city administrators, largely focused on his desire for a living wage for all employees at the complex. That demand has yet to be met.

“Much of our discussion centered on a $15 living wage for all on-site employees,” Russell said. “I believe that a potential project of this magnitude on city property should help solve our income inequality crisis in Miami and not add to it.”

The proposal, dubbed Miami Freedom Park, would feature a new stadium, along with surrounding development that includes hotels, retail, office, and park space. The MLS group would enter into a lease of up to 99 years.

If the project is sent to the November ballot, the referendum will merely authorize the city to negotiate a stadium deal — it would not in and of itself move the project forward. Beckham and his group would still have to negotiate lease terms with the City of Miami, and that agreement will need approval from at least four of Miami’s five commissioners. The issue of getting the proposal to the ballot is under a deadline of sorts, as the county election department will finalize the fall ballot language on August 7.

Rendering courtesy Arquitectonica. 

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