Miami-Dade schools: David Beckham stadium deal won’t come cheap for team

Soccer star David Beckham meets with the Miami Herald’s editorial board in 2014.
Soccer star David Beckham meets with the Miami Herald’s editorial board in 2014. EL NUEVO HERALD

The head of Miami-Dade Schools wants to negotiate a million-dollar deal for education in return for shielding David Beckham’s proposed soccer stadium from taxes.

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho told the Miami Herald’s editorial board on Tuesday that the community benefits negotiated would be at least equal to what Miami Beckham United would pay in taxes on a new stadium, and he downplayed any risk that could come with owning a $200 million venue.

“I do not support free tax exemptions, free give-aways to private-sector entities,” Carvalho said.

Through a spokesman, Beckham’s representatives declined to comment. But in a letter submitted to the Miami Herald’s editorial page that will run later this week, Tim Leiweke, an investor heading MBU, wrote: “One thing is for certain: This will be the most financially-responsible, publicly-vetted stadium agreement Miami has ever seen.”

The school board in October stepped up as a crucial partner in Beckham’s years-long quest to bring Major League Soccer to Miami. Investors for the British soccer star are looking at land owned by the city of Miami near Marlins Park. The team wants to partner with a county government to get immunity from taxes.

Under the current proposal, the school district would own the privately-financed stadium and enter into a management agreement with Beckham’s team.

Carvalho said the district wants to negotiate a deal that lays all liability for the stadium at investor’s feet.

He also promised that a deal with the state’s largest school district won’t come cheap for Beckham, outlining new specifics on the school board’s ask.

Miami-Dade schools is looking for funding for instruments and uniforms for at least nine school bands, after-school soccer programs at seven elementary schools and extra-curricular academic programs at an untold number of middle schools.

That’s in addition to school board access to the stadium for large events like band competitions and high school graduations. All told, the benefits to the school district could top $1.3 million, Carvalho said.

“The deal is contingent on services, support, educational access and space. And there’s a dollar-equivalent value to that,” he said.

The superintendent also called for 50,000 square feet of space within the stadium that would be made available for the district. Though Carvalho said he’s flexible about what the space could ultimately be used for, he hasn’t given up on plans to incorporate an entire sports-themed school into the stadium.

Just last week, Leiweke suggested a school isn’t possible.

“Quite frankly, we don’t have the space or the money for that,” he told the Miami Herald’s editorial board.

Christina Veiga: 305-376-2029, @cveiga