David Beckham’s representatives Thursday moved to jump-start a stalled effort to build a Miami soccer stadium by bringing potential investors to a pitch by Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
The investors weren’t identified, but the sales pitch apparently involves a new set of potential financiers in a project that has been courting deep pockets since the start.
There had been a brief flurry of speculation this summer centered around a partner in the company behind All Aboard Florida’s train deport in downtown Miami. But two sources familiar with the talks said Wesley Edens, chairman of the Fortress Investment Group, is no longer in the mix as a potential investor.
Neisen Kasdin, the Miami lawyer and lobbyist representing Beckham’s group, said Gimenez met with the investors in the downtown offices of Akerman, the law firm where Kasdin is a partner.
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$150 million Estimated cost to build a Major League Soccer stadium in Miami
“Mayor Gimenez met with them and encouraged them to invest,” said Kasdin, a former Miami Beach mayor. “It’s been known that the ownership of the team is looking for additional investors. This is a group of investors that is coming to town.”
Kasdin’s meeting with Gimenez, posted on the mayor’s online schedule, marks the first public bid by the Beckham group to revive momentum in a stadium deal that seemed on the verge of being final earlier this year. In March, Miami Beckham United, the name given the soccer star’s partnership with Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure, entertainment mogul Simon Fuller and others, paid nearly $19 million for six acres of land in Overtown for a 25,000-seat Major League Soccer stadium.
The purchase was a milestone, marking the first time the soccer star assembled actual real estate for a stadium he began pursuing in early 2014 with a press conference on the Miami waterfront with Gimenez and MLS Commissioner Don Garber. After bids for two waterfront sites failed, along with a site across from Marlins Park, Beckham settled on Overtown for the stadium.
In March, Miami Beckham United paid nearly $19 million for six acres of land in Overtown for a soccer stadium.
Beckham still needs about three acres of county-owned land next to the private parcels, and Gimenez and county commissioners have said they’re willing to sell the public real estate at market rate to the soccer team. The stadium would also need to win zoning approval from Miami, and secure the closing of Northwest Seventh Street, which runs down the middle of the two-block site just north of the Miami River, where Northwest Eighth Street meets Northwest Sixth Avenue.
But despite the optimism brought on by the March land sale, county officials said talks on the Beckham group purchasing the public real estate — currently storage and vehicle staging for the Water and Sewer Department — stalled heading into the summer. Beckham representatives said they wanted to first secure the investors needed to finance the facility, which is expected to cost more than $150 million to build.
Along with Edens, Beckham’s negotiators had been in talks with the sports arm of Qatar about buying a major stake in the new team. Thursday’s meeting suggests Beckham’s team has found a new group of investors to court, but it’s not known how far along in the talks they are. An Gimenez spokesman, Michael Hernández, would only say that the mayor met with would-be Beckham investors at Kasdin’s request.