As they pursue a new stadium at Melreese golf course, Inter Miami CF investors have agreed to relocate The First Tee program should their proposal move forward.
Inter Miami CF continues to pursue Miami Freedom Park, a proposed redevelopment of the city-owned Melreese Country Club near Miami International Airport. The project would be anchored by a 25,000-capacity soccer-specific stadium, with surrounding amenities expected to include 58 acres of public parks and green space, a hotel, tech hub, dining, retail, community soccer fields, and more.
As the club’s pursuit of the site has unfolded, one uncertainty has been how redevelopment of Melreese could affect The First Tree, a nonprofit youth golf program based at the course. That issue is being addressed, as Inter Miami CF managing owner Jorge Mas will pay about $3 million to relocate The First Tee, part of an agreement that was announced on Tuesday.
The timing of and the exact location of where First Tee would move remains unknown, but Inter Miami CF’s action to help the program secure a new home is being met with a positive response from Miami mayor Francis Suarez. More from the Miami Herald:
“The First Tee is important because it’s not just about golf,” Mas said. “I think they do tremendous work. It’s my desire that more young men and women can participate in this program. It’s really about life skills.”
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has advocated for Mas and Inter Miami to come up with a plan for First Tee. During the debate over whether Miami voters should decide if the city should negotiate a lease for the complex, Suarez reached out to the city of Miami Springs to discuss the possibility of moving The First Tee to its municipal golf course.
Since then, he said he’s told Mas that he considered a plan to accommodate The First Tee a condition of his support for the Miami Freedom Park plan. The mayor hosted [Charles] De Lucca and Mas in his City Hall office as they signed the new agreement Friday.
“It was always necessary to me that they were taken care of,” he said.
The earliest the new stadium within Miami Freedom Park is expected to open is 2022, but Inter Miami CF still has some major political hurdles to clear before the effort can move forward. 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 the lease, 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.
Inter Miami CF is slated to play home matches in its initial seasons in Fort Lauderdale, where an 18,000-seat stadium and training academy are being planned for the Lockhart Stadium site. Club investors are also expected to close on a $9 million purchase of land for a previously preferred stadium site in Miami’s Overtown neighborhood, but their main focus for the stadium project remains on Melreese.
All renderings via Intermiamicf.com.
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