FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – In two days, Miami commissioners will decide whether David Beckham’s dream to bring soccer to the city will live or die.
Further north, around Inter Miami’s current home stadium in Fort Lauderdale, neighbors of the quickly erected venue want to know when the promises made to them will be kept.
“This was all supposed to be a park. Soccer fields, walking trails,” said neighbor Mark Cucharale.
The land for that promised park has been used for parking on Inter Miami game days.
“Miami is looking at the same kind of things,” Cucharale said. “Once something is promised, things don’t come true.”
From Fort Lauderdale to Miami, residents once burned are now twice as skeptical, assuming public promises can be privately altered.
“I think it’s very unfair that Inter Miami has been dragged through the mud on the issue of the park,” said Stephanie Toothaker, an attorney representing team owners David Beckham and Jorge Mas, adding that they intend to build the park, too.
According to Toothaker, the timeline to build the park was set back by the COVID-19 pandemic and costs that the city was supposed to absorb.
“They’ve lived up to every promise and then some,” she said. “When we originally submitted the unsolicited proposal for them, we thought the original cost of improvements would cost $120 million. (They were) closer to $160 million, (and) they continue to deliver.”
The neighborhood’s city commissioner, Heather Moraitis, fought plans to change course for the intended park site, and backs Inter Miami’s promise that park is on the way.
“What is set in stone is that we have a comprehensive agreement from three years ago,” Moraitis said. “We received a lot of public support, a lot of public asking to us to really keep that a 20-acre park, and at this point, our commission has indicated they would like to move forward with the original plans.”