MLS commissioner Don Garber will tour a potential Miami MLS stadium site Friday, a visit that comes just after voters allowed the proposal to advance.
The Miami MLS expansion club–dubbed Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami–is backed by a group that is headlined by David Beckham. Along with Beckham, the group 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–located near Miami International Airport.
On Election Day, Miami voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum that allows the project to move forward but does not officially authorize it. With passage of the referendum, the MLS group can effectively bypass a traditional competitive-bidding process and negotiate the terms of a final agreement with the City of Miami. The agreement would require approval from at least four of Miami’s five commissioners to be finalized.
Garber was a guess speaker at the SoccerEx conference at Miami’s Marlins Park on Thursday, and was set to tour the potential MLS stadium site with Jorge Mas on Friday morning. The new stadium at the Melreese site is not expected to open until at least 2021, if it is indeed approved, but Garber said the goal remains for the team to begin play in 2020 at a short-term venue. More from the Miami Herald:
Garber is meeting with Beckham’s co-owner Jorge Mas on Friday morning and taking a tour of the Melreese Golf Course stadium site, he told the Herald.
The team is scheduled to begin play in 2020, but the stadium and Freedom Park they plan to build on the Melreese site won’t be ready until 2021 at the earliest, so they need a short-term home. Options include Marlins Park, Hard Rock Stadium, FIU Stadium and FAU Stadium.
“Our goal is to launch in 2020, that hasn’t really changed,” Garber said. “We have a lot of work to do to finalize a temporary venue.
“The most important thing is from a technical standpoint is the field needs to be perfect, or as perfect as it can be in a temporary environment. It needs to have the proper support systems for players both from a locker room perspective and other elements that ensure our players will be safe and healthy. We need to ensure that we have the right schedule, and when you’re playing as a tenant in a stadium, scheduling gets very complicated.”
MLS competed with 23 teams in 2018, but that number will jump to 24 next season with the addition of FC Cincinnati. Nashville and Miami would represent clubs number 25 and 26 if they join in 2020. Nashville would also likely need a short-term home if it began play in 2020, as its new stadium at The Fairgrounds Nashville is not expected to be finished until 2021.
The Miami proposal, dubbed Miami Freedom Park, combines a stadium with surrounding development. It includes a new 25,000-seat soccer-specific stadium, along with adjacent development that includes hotels, retail, offices, and other features on 73 acres, plus 58 acres of park space on the remainder of the 131-acre site. The MLS group would enter into a lease of up to 99 years.
RELATED STORIES: Voters Approve New Miami MLS Stadium; Miami MLS Stadium Referendum Approaching; It’s Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami for New Beckham MLS Squad; Legal Challenge to Miami MLS Stadium Referendum Could Get Hearing; Commissioners Approve Miami MLS Stadium Proposal for November Ballot;Proposed Miami MLS Stadium Terms Revised; Status Still Uncertain; Miami MLS Branding Announcement Drawing Closer; Miami MLS Stadium Decision Postponed to Next Week; Miami MLS Stadium at Melresse Vote Set for Thursday; Here’s Your First Look at New Miami Stadium Rendering; Details Emerge on New Miami MLS Stadium Proposal; Miami MLS Branding Could be Unveiled Soon; Miami MLS Stadium Plan for Melreese Expected to be Revealed Soon; Deadline Looms for Proposed Overtown MLS Stadium Site; Miami Freedom on Tap for MLS?; August Vote for Miami MLS Stadium at Melreese Looking Unlikely; Doral in the Mix for Miami MLS Stadium Site; Discussion of New Miami MLS Stadium Site Continues; Melreese Golf Course Pitched for Miami MLS Stadium Site; Beckham Group Planning for Miami MLS Franchise; Overtown Site Could be Too Small for Miami MLS Stadium Plan; Prospects of Miami MLS Stadium in Overtown Faces Questions; Residents Express Concerns Over Miami MLS Stadium Plan; Finally: MLS, Beckham Moving Forward with Miami Team, New Stadium