Inter Miami CF investors have informed Miami-Dade County of their intention to close on land in Overtown and seek permits from the city, effectively keeping the site in play for a new stadium.
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.
Overtown has largely been in the shadows since then, but it was back in the news recently when the end of a legal challenge surrounding the site triggered a deadline for club investors to inform Miami-Dade County of whether it intended to make another payment on the site. On Monday, Jorge Mas informed Miami-Dade County officials that the group wants to pay the remaining $8.5 million to close on a purchase of the site. It also intends to begin seeking permits from the city to construct a stadium. More from the Miami Herald:
“He has this bird in the hand,” Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said of the Overtown property after meeting with Mas on Monday. “He’s going to close on the property. And he’s going to start [requesting] permits to build a stadium.”
Mas has previously called the Overtown site a backup option if Melreese falls through, even though he has also described it as too cramped for the kind of entertainment and shopping destination he wants to create next to MLS games at Melreese. A Mas spokeswoman had no immediate comment Tuesday.
Gimenez said Mas faces MLS deadlines to have permits for a Miami stadium, and that the Overtown land gives him an avenue for complying with that requirement as city talks drag on for the mall, office complex, hotel and stadium the partners want to build at Melreese.
This does not mean that Inter Miami CF is shifting its focus away from the Melreese site, which provides far more room for club’s vision of a new soccer-specific stadium surrounded by mixed-use development than Overtown. However, the process for Melreese is a complicated one, requiring club investors to negotiate a 99-year lease land with city officials and have that agreement approved by four of Miami’s five city commissioners. If an agreement there cannot be reached, having Overtown as a fallback option would give Inter Miami CF a path toward building a new stadium in Miami. Club investors could also use the Overtown site for another project if the proposal for Melreese moves forward, though building anything other than a stadium at Overtown would require approval from the county to modify the original agreement.
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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