Inter Miami CF Group Faces Decision on Overtown Stadium Site

Miami MLS Stadium rendering

Now that a legal battle over the property is finished, the group backing Inter Miami CF has to decide its next move on a previously proposed stadium site in Overtown.

For an extended period in the years-long effort to bring an MLS expansion club to Miami, the investor group headlined by David Beckham targeted a nine-acre site in the city’s Overtown neighborhood for a new stadium. A step toward building a stadium there was taken in 2017, when Miami-Dade county officials voted to move forward with a sale of three acres of the site for $9 million. However, things began to change in 2018, when the stadium effort shifted to the city-owned Melreese Country Club site after the investment group underwent a shakeup that included the additions of local businessmen Jorge and Jose Mas.

Although the stadium effort remains focused on Melreese, the group did get a boost relating to the Overtown site on Thursday, when the Florida Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal in a legal challenge from Bruce Matheson, who 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. With the Supreme Court’s decision, however, Inter Miami CF investors now must pay $901,500 to the county in order to maintain a contract on the Overtown property.

The payment was originally due in June 2018, but county officials agreed to postpone that deadline. Under the new deadline, the group has seven days following the end of the case to notify the county of whether or not it will make the payment. In theory, Overtown could be a backup option for Inter Miami CF if discussions at the Melreese site come up short, or be targeted by the group for another type of development. However, the club has not announced any firm plans yet. More from the Miami Herald:

In a March interview with Magic City Soccer, Beckham’s lead local partner, Jorge Mas, said the Overtown site remains a potential back-up location if talks with Miami for the Melreese deal fall through….

There was no immediate comment from the Beckham group on the Supreme Court ruling.

The original county deal requires the Beckham group to build a soccer stadium on the property after purchasing the land. It’s unclear if Miami-Dade could alter the terms and entertain other options for the property.

Miami-Dade is pursuing a redevelopment of the nearby Culmer housing complex, which sits across the street from the six acres of private land the Beckham group purchased in 2016. Mas has said he’s interested in doing something “innovative” with the land in connection with the redevelopment.

When the plan shifted to Melreese, club investors cited the larger plot of land available there as an advantage over Overtown, as a more sizable site would result in room for development surrounding the stadium. While Miami voters approved a referendum in November that allows the city to negotiate a 99-year lease for the project, that did not finalize the plan. The city and Miami Freedom Park, LLC still have to negotiate a land lease for the site, an agreement that will require approval from four of Miami’s five city commissioners–and it remains to be seen if the club can reach that threshold. The earliest a stadium could open there is 2022.

Inter Miami CF will begin MLS play as an expansion team in 2020. Current plans call for the club to spend the 2020 and 2021 seasons at a stadium in Fort Lauderdale, with the venue being pitched as part of a larger redevelopment of the Lockhart Stadium site that includes an MLS training academy.

Above rendering reflects previous plans for Overtown site.

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