Commissioners days away from Beckham stadium plan, but is the city getting a raw deal?

MIAMI, Fla. – Miami City Commissioners are days away from making a decision on a proposed plan that would bring a 25,000-seat stadium for David Beckham’s Inter Miami CF soccer franchise on the property of the city’s Melreese Country Club.

Co-owner Jorge Mas was pitching the massive Miami Freedom Park plan to a national audience on television during the team’s game Sunday. It’s a pitch both he and Beckham have been trumpeting for almost a decade.

But a mini-documentary produced by filmmaker Billy Corben is the latest push back to the no-bid deal for a 99-year-lease to develop the public golf course into a massive stadium, retail, hotel, and business complex.

The doc is narrated by ex Miami Marlins president David Samson who got politicians to approve a raw deal for taxpayers for his ballpark.

“Is this the best deal that the city can get for that amount of land not including the soccer stadium?” Samson said.

Corben appeared on Local 10′s Sunday news program “This Week in South Florida” to share his perspective.

“Why don’t we separate out everything else: hotel, office, park, retail component and then put those out to bid,” Corben said.

According to Mas, the deal would be 100 percent privately financed.

Miami’s own attorneys wrote that they learned about the lease agreement on the news in January and outlined at least 28 issues that raised red flags.

  • No guarantor that ensures enough construction funding.
  • Rent to Miami is based on the lower of two 2018 appraises and capped at 4 percent with no late fees.
  • There is no hard deadline to complete the project.  
  • The team is not obligated to build the commercial component around the soccer stadium where tax revenue to the city is supposed to come from.

If Miami commissioners sign off on the project, Inter Miami CF owners estimate the stadium could bring around 15,000 jobs and about $40 million in tax revenue each year.

One commissioner has declared himself a “no” vote, which means that the team needs all of the rest of the four or five commissioners to support it. The commission as a whole and neither individual commissioner have said what they think about the details that are in the lease agreement.

Commissioners are scheduled to vote on the deal Thursday. If the vote is postponed, it will be the fourth time it has been pushed back.

About the Author:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."