Former Homestead Sports Complex Gets 4 Million Infusion
By Rachel Tannenbaum
Almost a year into its first year of a lease, the La Ley Sports has pumped $4 million into the former Homestead Sports Complex, now La Ley Sports Complex, in multiple components.
According to the lease document from the City of Homestead, La Ley Sports signed a seven-year contract with the city from July 14, 2011, to July 14, 2018. The lease is in conjunction with the purchase agreement, which says La Ley Sports will buy the complex for $16 million by the end of the lease.
The agreement says La Ley will operate, develop and improve property during the lease in an anticipation of its purchase prior to the expiration of the term.
The complex officially opened under La Ley last June 17, when baseball teams for youths 8 to 18 came from across the US as well as Japan, Taiwan, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Colombia, Panama and even Cuba to compete until Aug. 12.
"Last summer more than 500 teams successfully came to the complex," said President John H. Ruiz. "Next year we hope to have over 1,000 teams."
Before La Ley signed the lease with the city, it invested about $1 million in renovations. They included redoing all the seating, all the suites and painting the entire outside of the stadium.
La Ley has also replaced broken lighting, built a baseball diamond for children 7 to 13 and retrofitted the complex so it can transmit games in high definition as well as redoing the sound system, the dugouts, the locker rooms, all the interior offices and all the fields behind the main stadium.
"We have also created an afterschool kids care," Mr. Ruiz said.
The city built the baseball stadium, centerpiece of the complex, in 1991 as spring training home for Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians. About $12 million of the $22 million construction cost was wrested from the City of Miami Beach when courts ruled it had to give Homestead tourist tax collections after Miami Beach reneged on a deal to give a surplus from the county’s 3% resort tax pool to Homestead.
The complex sustained about $6.2 million in damage in 1992 from Hurricane Andrew. After it was rebuilt, the Indians decided not to move in. After that, the stadium served a variety of uses, including as a backdrop for reality television and a set in the Oliver Stone movie "Any Given Sunday."
Homestead had thereafter tried to pitch the rebuilt stadium to professional soccer and to professional baseball teams for spring training to no avail.
Mr. Ruiz said that the response from the city has been pretty good.
"The economy makes things harder than we would want. The speed isn’t what we expected," Mr. Ruiz said. "But the kids absolutely love it."
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