Miami-Dade County

Beckham group projects huge revenues from stadium complex, just a fraction from soccer

The proposed “Miami Freedom Park” that would house a Major League Soccer stadium and a large new office and retail complex. David Beckham and partners, who include Jorge and Jose Mas, want to develop the project on Miami’s Melreese golf course.
The proposed “Miami Freedom Park” that would house a Major League Soccer stadium and a large new office and retail complex. David Beckham and partners, who include Jorge and Jose Mas, want to develop the project on Miami’s Melreese golf course. Miami Freedom LLC

A soccer stadium for Miami's future Major League Soccer team is only one small part of a massive proposal to redevelop Miami's sole city-owned golf course into a sprawling sports, retail, entertainment and hotel complex — and newly released economic projections make it clear team owners expect to bring in significant revenue from the deal.

David Beckham and his partners are projecting they would see revenues of more than $1 million a day at the soccer stadium, retail and hotel complex, detailed in a plan that calls for more retail square footage than Brickell City Centre. The complex would be built on Melreese Country Club, next to Miami International Airport.

The Beckham group, led locally by MasTec executive Jorge Mas, wants to have 96 businesses in that retail space generating $256.5 million in revenue, along with 400,000 square feet of office space they anticipate will yield $40.5 million in lease revenue. All told, the complex is expected to generate about $425 million every year in revenue, signaling what could be a lucrative financial deal for owners who want to lease public land to build Miami Freedom Park.

But the projections also spur questions about whether actual leases will match the bold forecasts and whether the proposed $3.5 million in minimum annual rent to the city is a fair rate given the revenue owners expect.

In a statement to the Miami Herald on Tuesday, Mas insisted it was a fair rate, based on city-ordered appraisals and expenses he and his partners will incur building the project.

"The $3.5 million is fair market value for land at its highest and best use and already zoned for this," he wrote in an email. "We are agreeing to pay this even though the proper zoning is not designated yet nor is the site ready for vertical construction."

Tuesday's financial projections were not part of the appraisals commissioned by the city to calculate potential rent for the soccer complex.

On the question of who the commercial tenants might be, Mas said: "We have nothing to offer anyone yet."

The public has seen only scant, slowly emerging details about the proposal that Beckham and Mas will personally pitch at Thursday's commission meeting. These new figures are part of projections released for the first time Tuesday that outline the potentially massive revenues the ownership group expects from a redeveloped Melreese, at 1400 NW 37th Ave.

On Thursday, commissioners could vote to hold a referendum where voters would decide whether the city should change its laws and waive competitive bidding to allow the commission to negotiate a deal to lease more than half of Melreese's land, 73 acres, to the Beckham group. The referendum would be on the November ballot. Without this change, the city could not approve such a lease without putting the plan out to bid.

The report, prepared by Paul Lambert Advisory for Mas, paints a lucrative financial future for the Beckham group. Mas has released information regarding his proposal in recent days, with Tuesday's analysis the clearest view yet of the ownership's business plan.

The numbers provide the basis for a forecasted tax boost Mas and Beckham are pushing as a public benefit from the proposal: the $44 million in new tax revenue to the city of Miami, Miami-Dade County, Miami-Dade Public Schools and the state. These taxes would come from property, sales, parking surcharge and other taxes.

In exchange for the right to develop the land into an office park, shopping center and hotel complex, the Beckham group would pay the city about $3.6 million in rent annually. Profits from the commercial complex, including the stadium, would go to the Beckham group, which would pay for its construction. In addition, the group would give the city $20 million over 30 years so the city could develop a new 58-acre public park next to the stadium.

Tuesday's numbers offer a far more detailed look at the Mas brothers' ambition for the MLS franchise. While Beckham and his earlier partners had previously settled on a nine-acre stadium site in Overtown that was so cramped it couldn't fit a parking garage, the effort has shifted to a large and complicated real estate venture since the Mas brothers took over as lead partners last fall.

A spreadsheet listing various revenue sources shows soccer would be a relatively small part of business operations at the Freedom Park complex. Sales from shops, restaurants and entertainment venues are forecast at $385 million, with just $42 million of that coming from the soccer stadium's anticipated 23 events a year. In other words, for every dollar spent at Freedom Park, about 11 cents would be at Beckham's stadium.

The forecast doesn't offer insight into how much of that revenue would be profits for Beckham and partners, who would preside over one of the larger shopping destinations in Miami, with 600,000 square feet of retail and entertainment space.

"My gut is it would not be dissimilar to Brickell City Centre in terms of scale. You have a similar amount of retail," said Lambert, a Brickell-based consultant who conducted the economic forecasts for Mas. Brickell City Centre opened in 2016 and lists about 500,000 square feet of retail for lease.

The Beckham complex also is projected to generate about $40 million a year renting out office space near the stadium and shopping center. While legislation drafted by the city anticipates up to 1 million square feet of office space, the Beckham projections delivered to city administrators on Tuesday contemplate only 400,000 square feet of office space.

The complex would boast about two dozen restaurants, plus about 60 shops and entertainment outlets. It also would have four anchor stores — typically big-box retailers that are particular draws for shoppers. Lambert cited Nordstrom Rack and Target as possibilities for that type of space, but emphasized it was too early to identify actual retailers. "Who knows?" he said.

With 3,750 parking spaces, most of which would be constructed underneath 23 acres of public soccer fields on the west end of the property, the complex expects to generate about $11.5 million a year in parking charges.

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