Opinion

Our vision for Miami’s soccer club

LEIWEKE
LEIWEKE

Talk of bringing a world-class soccer stadium and Major League Soccer team to Little Havana through a public-private partnership with Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County has sparked a groundswell of dialogue, anticipation and excitement.

After all, the greater Miami community represents one of the most vibrant and storied sports markets worldwide.

Miami Beckham United will assume 100 percent of the responsibility and risk for all costs related to construction and maintenance of a new purpose-built soccer stadium in Little Havana.

The idea of one of the world’s most beloved soccer stars, David Beckham, fielding a team in one of the world’s most dynamic communities has created a powerful narrative. Knowing that Miami could engineer a national model for the way major sports teams and local schools partner to enrich the lives of children elevates this collaboration to another level of significance.

While our Miami Beckham United principals — David Beckham, Simon Fuller, Marcelo Claure and myself — are eager to move forward and all signs indicate that the public welcomes the community benefits that we will create, we have a number of details to finalize before an agreement is reached.

One thing is for certain: This will be the most financially responsible, publicly-vetted stadium agreement Miami has ever seen. Construction of our stadium will be 100 percent privately financed, and while the community has already demonstrated support for bringing professional soccer to Miami, voters will have the final say on whether a stadium is built on public land in Little Havana.

We will reimburse the city, county and school board for their respective shares of any property taxes currently collected for the land occupied by the stadium.

We have always vowed to make this a transparent process, and with that in mind, following is a detailed breakdown of our position regarding the most significant terms under discussion.

▪ With David Beckham as the chairman of our club, we are committed to fielding a team that will make Miami one of the most prominent soccer cities in the Americas.

▪ Miami Beckham United will assume 100 percent of the responsibility and risk for all costs related to construction and maintenance of a new purpose-built soccer stadium in Little Havana.

▪ Our team has offered to pay the City of Miami and private land owners above fair market value for the land where the stadium will be located.

▪ We will privately finance ongoing capital improvements to maintain the facility’s best-in-class condition over time.

▪ Once completed, ownership of the privately-built stadium will be transferred to the school board at no cost and no risk to the school system and the public.

▪ Our team will provide functional and meaningful educational space for sports, music and entertainment within the stadium and work with the school board to facilitate academic programs centered on professional sports — a first of its kind initiative in the United States. At the encouragement of the superintendent, we are also committed to music education and will form a partnership with the school board to underwrite bands, uniforms, instruments, and music programs.

▪ The stadium will host school-related events including band championships, football and soccer matches, and graduation and community events throughout the year at no cost to the public.

▪ We will reimburse the city, county and school board for their respective shares of any property taxes currently collected for the land occupied by the stadium. Thus, no one — not the county, city or school board — will lose revenues they are currently generating.

▪ We have agreed to spend close to a half-million dollars a year with the city for the creation and maintenance of soccer-related fields and community centers

▪ In addition to our collaboration with the public schools, we will create a privately-financed training center and soccer academy focused on identifying and grooming local athletes.

▪ We pledge to work with the city, school board and other stakeholders to attract major events to the neighborhood, lure additional investment and strive to foster a positive economic impact on Little Havana.

▪ After terms of an agreement are finalized, we will give the full power to approve our Little Havana stadium proposal to you, the voting public.

Having been involved in dozens of stadium development agreements across North America, I can attest to the uniqueness of the proposal under consideration. Beyond committing to significant benefits for the community without seeking a penny in public financing, from the city, county or school board, our principals intend to establish a long-term presence in Miami. We believe a hometown soccer club will bolster the city’s global brand while uniting its diverse community around the world’s most popular sport.

Miami Beckham United is committed to entering an agreement that is responsible and transparent. It’s now up to Miami’s civic leaders to finalize a proposal that opens the door to a world-class soccer club Miami can call its own while ensuring the local community receives the ample benefits it deserves.

Tim Leiweke is a partner with Miami Beckham United.

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