David Beckham has cleared a big political hurdle to closing a stadium deal in Miami-Dade, with the commissioner representing his proposed site sponsoring a plan to sell him county land in Overtown for about $9 million.
Audrey Edmonson, whose county district includes Overtown, stalled quick approval of the deal in early May by demanding the Beckham group return to Miami and pitch residents on the proposal for a 25,000-seat, privately-financed stadium without parking facilities. This week, Edmonson gave her formal endorsement by sponsoring the legislation allowing Miami-Dade to sell a truck depot to the Beckham team in a no-bid deal that goes before the commission on Tuesday, June 6.
Commissioners generally avoid supporting projects opposed by the hometown commissioner, so the Beckham group considered Edmonson’s support essential ahead of a vote before the full 13-member county board.
Though he still would need city approval, purchasing the three-acre county site near the Miami River would move Beckham closer than ever to the soccer stadium that he began publicly pursuing in early 2014 amid political momentum and public fanfare. Despite the celebrity athlete’s star power, his partnership failed to secure several high-profile stadium sites — first at PortMiami, then on the Miami waterfront, and then next to Marlins Park in Little Havana.
Purchasing the three-acre county site near the Miami River would move Beckham closer than ever to the soccer stadium that he began publicly pursuing in early 2014 amid political momentum and public fanfare.
Each of those sites boasted large parking garages nearby, but the property in Overtown does not. The stadium partnership, Miami Beckham United, does not plan to build a garage on its two-block stadium site, which includes six acres purchased last year from a private owner for $19 million.
Instead of garages, the Beckham group is promoting the Culmer Metrorail station about three blocks away and Major League Soccer’s tradition of fans walking to the games held during the spring and summer. The group also sees promise in the nearby Miami River, with fans walking from downtown Miami and boarding a small cruise boat that the stadium would arrange as a game-day ferry.
In its proposed deal with Miami-Dade, Miami Beckham United also agreed to provide for 2,000 parking spaces in surrounding areas, which it would service with shuttles from the stadium. It also agreed to work with Miami to limit parking during games, concerts and other events to residents only near the stadium.
Most of the details of the proposal are already publicly known: Miami Beckham United would have 60 days to make a $450,000 down payment on the purchase as it seeks formal approval by Major League Soccer to bring a franchise to Miami, and then nine months to pay another $900,000.
Beckham still must seek approvals by the city of Miami to build the stadium, a process sure to involve fighting the nearby Spring Garden neighborhood, where residents have warned of a traffic nightmare from a sports venue without garages.
“I think it’s terrible for the neighborhood,” said Amanda Hand, a lawyer and Spring Garden resident. “You either have zero people or 25,000 people. It isn’t like a standard commercial use.”
In the run-up to the County Commission meeting on Tuesday, Miami-Dade and the Beckham group have scheduled three town halls in Overtown to make the stadium pitch. Beckham representatives plan to present the stadium plan and a package of economic incentives offered the county in exchange for the opportunity to buy the land outside the normal procurement system. The first of the three meetings starts at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Overtown YWCA at 351 NW Fifth St., Miami.
For Tuesday’s County Commission meeting, the public will have a chance to weigh in on the proposal, which is being fast-tracked for a final vote that day without going through a committee hearing. A Beckham insider said the London-based celebrity isn’t expected for the meeting before the 13-member board. One member of Beckham’s lobbying and legal team who may address commissioners is Jose Felix Diaz, a Republican member of the Florida House running for State Senate.
“I am a lawyer for Beckham and proud to advocate for [a] 100% privately financed stadium,” Diaz, a registered lobbyist for the Beckham group, wrote on Twitter Wednesday. “Soccer is awesome.”
Miami-Dade’s Water and Sewer department owns the property Beckham wants, and would receive the proceeds from the sale. Along with giving the Beckham group about five years to pay for the three-acre parcel where Sixth Street meets Northwest Sixth Avenue, Mayor Carlos Gimenez proposes having the Water and Sewer Department pay “documentary” stamp taxes related to the sale paperwork of about $125,000. Those fees are typically paid by the seller. As a for-profit entity, Miami Beckham United will be required to pay yearly property taxes on the land once the deal closes.
Gimenez wants to use Florida’s economic-development laws to waive competitive bidding for the county land. In exchange, Beckham agreed to a package of economic-development goals and a mandated hiring requirement. The stadium must create 50 permanent, full-time jobs five years after buying the property. Of those positions, 26 must pay at least what the county considers a living wage — roughly $27,000 a year under the current calculation of about $15 an hour.
The remaining 24 jobs would have no wage restrictions, but must offer at least 36 hours a week of pay.
Miami-Dade also would deduct nearly $600,000 from the purchase price to cover environmental clean-up costs for the site, which a memo on the proposed sale said were estimated to run as low as $280,000 and as high as $1.6 million. The county would back the stadium seeking state “brownfield” subsidies tied to cleaning up degraded or contaminated land.
The $9 million purchase price is based on appraisals conducted in 2015 and amounts to $74 a foot — roughly what Beckham paid for the private land next door, according to the memo.
This post was updated to reflect that fees and taxes related to real estate filings are typically paid by the seller.
Soccer stadium meetings
Miami-Dade has scheduled three public town halls — two at the same time — on David Beckham’s soccer proposal. Each event begins at 6 p.m. in Miami.
Thursday, June 1: YWCA, 351 NW Fifth St.
Monday, June 5: Culmer Community Action Center, 1600 NW Third Ave.
Monday, June 5: Trinity CME Church, 511 NW Fourth St.