The arrival of David Beckham in Miami has incited a new kind of soccer fever in the city known to host soccer games with crowds of over 70,000. Most newsworthy right now is the talk of building a soccer stadium in Miami. Beckham and his team hope to purchase land from Miami-Dade County for his team’s new stadium.
The sale of a public asset, including a county-owned property, for a private operation is not a public-private partnership, also known as P3. Rather, a P3 requires that the private partner and public entity share in both the risks and benefits of the project. Accordingly, Beckham’s contemplated purchase of land from Miami-Dade County would not be a P3.
This is not surprising, however, as P3s are relatively new to Florida. In fact, the proposed stadium for our rival Sunshine State MLS team, the Orlando City Soccer Club, whose stadium will be built using tourist development tax funds and funds from the city of Orlando, will also not use a P3 structure.
However, with the right structure, a P3 could work very well for a soccer stadium. A properly designed P3 would allow both the team and the local government to leverage their expertise to create a true partnership that highlights the best that both partners have to offer. In general, a P3 for the building of a stadium works best when:
• The public entity’s main contribution is land and infrastructure, and the private entity’s primary contribution is financing and construction of the stadium, including maintenance and repairs, the two cost-intensive risks that draw the most ire from taxpayers, and
• The facility is also able to generate substantial sales, retail and development revenue that can be shared by the two partners.
Having a public partner in a stadium project can expand support in areas such as transportation, and facilitate inter- and intranational exchanges that can generate revenue for a stadium. Having a private partner in a stadium project will alleviate the costs and risks that the public bears and provide the opportunity to collaborate with highly skilled, high-profile professionals who can implement creative methods of attracting customers and growing business.
A P3 designed along these lines could create a win-win situation for both the team and the county, as compared with the more traditional model currently being contemplated. A P3 is not simply about dividing the pie, it can be used to bake a bigger pie, such as delivering a better product for both the partners and the community. The option of using a P3 for the construction of the new soccer stadium should not be ruled out.
Al Dotson, attorney, Miami