David Beckham taking big victory to Miami city hall contest
The Miami-Dade County Commission on Tuesday approved David Beckham and his investors buying county-owned land to build a stadium for a Major League Soccer franchise near Marlins Park, but the group still needs rezoning approval and permits from the City of Miami to build the privately-financed 25,000-seat venue.
The 9-4 vote came after a discussion that Chair Esteban Bovo Jr. said took longer than a soccer game. Now, Miami Properties LLC is to pay $9 million for the 2.79-acre property within a mile or so of Marlins Park in Little Havana. The land, which belongs to the Water and Sewer Department, is adjacent to about 5.82 acres the Miami Beckham United group already owns in the southwest part of Overtown.
Commission Vice Chair Audrey Edmonson spearheaded the legislation, saying she’s been working with the Beckham team to make sure the land sale will be good for residents of Overtown and Spring Garden. Under ownership and leadership of David Beckham, globally known former soccer player and LA Galaxy star, this is to host international soccer matches in Miami-Dade. The group still needs permission from Major League Soccer to own a franchise in Miami-Dade.
The Miami Beckham United group – David Beckham’s investment group – must go through many steps before getting its proposed home for Major League Soccer, including within five years certifying the creation of 50 permanent full-time jobs for 10 years, 26 of which must pay employees an annual salary greater than $27,069 or the current living wage. The remaining 24 jobs must be certified each year for 44,928 hours.
The commission amended the resolution Tuesday, which now stipulates that off-duty county police and City of Miami police who will work during games and events will do curb-in and curb-out surveillance of sidewalks, respectively.
The amended agreement also states the design and elevation of the stadium will comply with Miami-Dade’s sea level rise standards and the ownership must provide upper-management training for those who would work at the stadium.
Residents who spoke Tuesday against having the stadium at the site included Bruce Matheson, who said there was no competitive bid for the county property, which he said is against Florida law (the county waived competitive bids), and Tammy Flood of Spring Garden, who said neighbors have had very little notification from the Beckham group, which was to be “a good neighbor,” about the plans.
Others said there would be too much noise for kids to study and for everyone living near the stadium on all sides, decried lack of parking restrictions, said it’s not the best use of the property, and predicted a stadium would not bring as many jobs as would a Costco or affordable housing.
Chris Allen of Pinecrest supported selling county land to bring a soccer stadium to Miami. A former resident of London, Mr. Allen said growing up he lived “a stone’s throw” from the Emirates stadium, home to his Arsenal football club. Nothing brings a community together more than having a soccer stadium, he said. “You’re not making money for the developers. It’s about the impact this sport can have on people.”
Ms. Edmonson said the county-owned property is contaminated and has been an eyesore for years. “Something needs to be done about it now.”
She added that people from Overtown didn’t speak Tuesday. “I’ve had meetings with Overtown residents. Everything they’ve asked for, the Beckham group has agreed to and put forth efforts for Spring Garden as well.” Ms. Edmonson said the amendments commissioners agreed to came from the community.
Attorney Neisen Kasdin of Akerman LLP, representing Miami Beckham United and affiliates, spoke about the stadium plan. It’s 100% privately financed and the team will pay property taxes, he said. Miami Beckham United has a strong commitment to work with community organizations, Mr. Kasdin said. There’s more transit access than the other sites the group has looked at and there will be a designated parking plan, he said.
“By bringing people into the neighborhood, we will be supporting neighborhood businesses and that’s critical.”
Mr. Kasdin said he knows from working with David Beckham for three years that the group has a commitment to community to work with youth, create jobs and offer training.
A few commissioners pointed out the proposed stadium isn’t entirely privately financed, given that the county is paying for the environmental clean-up and the Water and Sewer Department will pay the documentary stamp tax in the land sale.
According to the agreement with the county, Miami Properties will put down $5 million at closing with the balance paid over four years ($1 million each year) at 5% interest less about $590,000 as an offset for an environmental clean-up the county will do. Miami-Dade would keep a $450,000 initial deposit and another $900,000 if the group wants an extension beyond the agreed-upon 17-month period to close.
Proceeds from the sale would be deposited in the Water and Sewer Department’s renewal and replacement fund.
If the closing doesn’t occur within the time period, the county or buyer could terminate the agreement and the escrow deposit would be released to the county as liquidated damages.
Mr. Kasdin said there’s more transit access on this property than the other sites the group has looked at and there will be a designated parking plan for at least 2,000 vehicles.
Among Miami Beckham United’s investors are Mr. Beckham; partners Marcelo Claure, CEO of Sprint; and Simon Fuller, Mr. Beckham’s agent/advisor and creator of the “Idol” franchise including “American Idol” in the US. Also reportedly in the group is Todd Boehly, part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
After buying the property, Miami Beckham United must have a training program for workers seeking permanent skilled jobs, provide free transit passes for employees taking public transportation to and from the property; try to have as many local workers living in the area and at least 65% of construction workers from the area; and try to have at least 40% of its construction firms in the area.
The operators must also develop a partnership with the Overtown Youth Coalition, including training sessions and access to tickets for stadium events; develop a detailed security program for the immediate area surrounding the property; work with the full-time residents of Spring Garden to develop a plan for controlled access and to enforce parking restrictions during construction of the stadium and after ticketed events at the stadium.
In other stipulations, operators are to provide a plan to encourage the use of public transportation, parking for at least 2,000 vehicles at garages or parking lots in the Civic Center or downtown area and provide shuttles from the parking garages.
They’re also to develop a partnership with the Miami-Dade County School Board for special opportunities for youth education and athletics, and work with the City of Miami Parking Authority on developing a residential parking permit plan to restrict parking surrounding the stadium for event days.
Everything the commission agreed to will be upheld by the City of Miami, according to the county attorney’s office.
Mayor Carlos Giménez, who wasn’t at the meeting, issued a statement saying the process to approve a land sale to the group representing Mr. Beckham was lengthy and difficult but necessary to “ensure that Miami-Dade County taxpayers were property compensated. This has been a collaborative process that included five public meetings with Overtown and Spring Garden residents, and we will continue to work together to deliver to our 2.7 million residents and the millions who visit our community a world-class stadium.”