MIAMI: The David Beckham-led investment group behind a Major League Soccer expansion franchise in Miami is to make a presentation next week to officials from the US city regarding a new stadium plan.
This is the latest twist in the site-pursuit saga which has raised questions over the timescale for a new team in the city.
The Miami Herald has reported that city commissioners consider next Wednesday whether to ask voters of whether the city should change its laws to accept a no-bid deal that would lead to the development of a stadium at a golf course next to Miami International Airport.
In November, Miami voters could agree to let the city lease more than half of its only city-owned golf course to David Beckham and his partners to build a privately owned soccer complex with a 28,000-seater stadium, one million square feet of tech-related office space and 500 to 800 hotel rooms.
According to the Herald, Beckham and his partners, which include local business giants Jorge and Jose Mas, want to turn Melreese golf course into a 73-acre soccer, commercial and hotel complex and a 58-acre park.
Apparently the complex would be privately funded under the terms of a 39-year lease, which could be extended to 99 years. The city would receive annual rent of about US$4 million to US$5 million, and the owners would pay taxes on the re-zoned park land, which does not currently contribute to the tax rolls.
The report asserts that the Melreese proposal, already creating controversy among supportive soccer fans and opposition who believe Melreese should remain a golf course, further confirms that the Beckham group is no longer considering land it owns in Overtown for a stadium.
In January, Beckham’s long-delayed efforts to establish an expansion franchise in Miami came to fruition, four years after the soccer icon selected the southern Florida city as the preferred site for the team.
It has been widely reported the new franchise will begin play in 2020, although this is likely to be at a temporary site until their new stadium is developed.
In January, the league said Miami’s team would play in a privately developed, 25,000-seat stadium in the city’s Overtown district.
Beckham, 42, negotiated the right to acquire an MLS expansion franchise for US$25 million when he joined LA Galaxy in 2007. MLS expansion fees have since skyrocketed to around US$150 million.
For the past four years, Beckham’s group have faced local opposition to various stadium sites they proposed, and have suffered setbacks in the face of Miami’s challenging real estate environment. The group has previously lost out on stadium sites in PortMiami, downtown Miami, and another near Marlins Park in Little Havana.