Miami Freedom Park Discussion Delayed After Accident at City Hall

Miami Freedom Park Rendering

A planned discussion on the Miami Freedom Park proposal was postponed Thursday, after a Miami City Commissioner was injured in a fall at city hall.

Inter Miami CF, which begins MLS play next spring as an expansion team, is proposing Miami Freedom Park, a planned $1 billion redevelopment of the city-owned Melreese Country Club that would include a new soccer-specific stadium and surrounding development. On Thursday, Miami City Commissioners were to discuss a crucial series of measures. One would be on an agreement for the project–even though some city officials have contended that a deal is not ready for consideration–while a separate vote would direct the city to cease negotiations with the team, and open the property up for bidding.

During the meeting, Miami City Commissioner Manolo Reyes was injured after he tripped while leaving the dais. The 75 year old suffered a cut near his right eye and hurt his arm, and was taken the hospital, asking Inter Miami CF and city officials to postpone items related to Miami Freedom Park before leaving city hall. The decision was ultimately made to postpone those discussions, pushing them back to a special commission meeting on November 12. More from the Miami Herald:

The conversation won’t happen until Nov. 12, per Reyes’ request. Late Thursday, the remaining four commissioners voted to call a special commission meeting at 9 a.m. Nov. 12 to address Miami Freedom Park. Reyes asked the soccer group and the city administrators to bring back a finalized lease then.

“He’s doing OK. He’s stable. They’re checking him out,” said Steven Ferreiro, Reyes’ chief of staff. “It’s just precautionary.”

Opponents and supporters of the proposal were expecting a spirited debate Thursday evening, when the commission was scheduled to discuss the matter at 6 p.m. Reyes is the chief opponent to the plan on the commission, a significant factor because the lease would require approval from four of five commissioners.

Also looming: the city’s municipal election. Commissioner Wifredo “Willy” Gort, whose district includes Melreese, has opposed the plan since it was unveiled in summer 2018. Gort is term-limited this year. Voters will elect the next District 1 commission in November.

City officials had a contentious debate over Thursday’s planned discussions earlier this month, with commissioners critical of the proposal criticizing Inter Miami CF and supporters within city government of dragging out negotiations, claiming that they are trying to stretch discussions beyond November’s election in hopes of eventually putting the proposal before a more favorable commission. Other city officials, however, contended that any votes would be premature, given the amount of work–including appraisals and various studies–that has to be done before an agreement could be negotiated and presented for commissioner approval.

Inter Miami CF’s plan received a boost last November, when Miami voters approved a referendum that allows the city to negotiate a 99-year lease for the project. The referendum did not finalize plans, however, as Inter Miami CF investors and Miami officials still have to work out the terms of a land lease and eventually have it approved by four of Miami’s five city commissioners

Inter Miami CF is backed by a group that includes David Beckham, as well as Jorge and Jose Mas and other investors. It will begin play next spring at the stadium in Fort Lauderdale that is being constructed as part of its training academy, starting what is intended to be temporary stay for MLS matches until a new Miami home can be completed.

Rendering courtesy Inter Miami CF.

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