Voters have overwhelmingly approved a referendum on a sale of city land for a new Miami MLS stadium, with the next step negotiations between city officials and the David Beckham ownership group.
In the end, the vote was not particularly close, with around 60 percent of city voters approving the proposal. The Miami MLS stadium referendum moves the project forward, not officially authorizing it. Technically, the vote is over whether to allow the MLS group to bypass a traditional competitive-bidding process and negotiate the terms of a final agreement with the City of Miami, with an agreement requiring approval from at least four of Miami’s five commissioners to be finalized. More on that project here.
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. The proposal, dubbed Miami Freedom Park, features a new 25,000-seat soccer-specific stadium, along with surrounding 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.
The proposal was framed not as a referendum on professional sports (indeed, the stadium construction itself will be privately financed), but on economic development. The exposure to the city, as it stands now, is minimal, which undoubtedly accounts for the referendum’s easy passage. Whether or not four of five Miami commissioners agree on any final deal, however, remains to be seen.
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