Soccer stadium opponents, backers rally public ahead of key vote

Ownership group says site could produce $44 million in taxes

By Tim Swift - Digital Editor

MIAMI - The public push is underway ahead of a city commission vote Thursday for David Beckham’s plan to develop a Major League Soccer stadium on the site of Miami’s Melreese Country Club.

"Join me at commission on the 12th. We need your support and voices to be heard," Beckham said Tuesday on Instagram. "Say 'Yes' to football in Miami."

Jorge Mas, who leads the team's ownership group, sat down with Local 10's Michael Putney Tuesday to talk about the benefits of Miami Freedom Park, which includes plans for offices, an entertainment complex and public green spaces.

"When we look at Melreese, it gives us an opportunity to number one activate a park, because a golf course is not a park," Mas said.

Mas has high hopes for the mixed-use project and stressed that the project, unlike other stadium pitches, actually benefits city taxpayers

"I want our residents to know it’s about a billion dollar investment," Mas said.

On Monday, Emilio Gonzalez, Miami’s city manager, said the complex would produce $44 million in tax revenues. Those number are not city's analysis, but those figures were given to Gonzalez by Mas.

The team’s analysts said they “have yet to subject the numbers to an independent market analysis.”

At the golf course, they are gathering crowds to appeal to the commission Thursday about the programs and camps that serve thousands of young people. Mas told Putney that the Miami Freedom would make it so the youth golf programs could continue.

The commission vote will be close. Commissioners Keon Hardemon and Joe Carollo reportedly are leaning in favor of the project while Commissioners Manolo Reyes and Willy Gort are opposed. Commissioner Ken Russell, who hasn't publicly weighed in on the project, appears to be the deciding vote.  

Gonzalez and Miami’s new mayor, Francis Suarez, and have eyed Mel Reese for development and offered Team Beckham the public land lease.

But the roster of movers and shakers involved in the course and foundational programs insist parks shouldn't be about profit.

Former Miami Heat star Ray Allen posted on social media about Mel Reese’s programs for children.

"If you're familiar with Miami at all, there aren't too many public courses for our kids to play," he wrote on Instagram. "There will be a town hall meeting on whether or not this stadium should be built. Whatever you choose, now is the time to speak up!"

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