The clock is ticking on David Beckham's quest to build a soccer stadium in Miami-Dade County. According to a timeline given to school board
By December 22, both the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County Public Schools (MDCPS) must approve ballot referendum language. Citizens would then vote on the plan during March's presidential primary election.
School board member and county mayoral candidate Raquel Regalado says no serious objections to the plan were raised at this morning's meeting, where a detailed packet on the proposal was presented to board members.
"It still has the support of the majority of the board," Regalado tells New Times. "Our discussion was all about how we can ensure there's a real community benefit from the proposal. It was all consistent with what the superintendent has been discussing since last week."
There's no telling what would happen if Miami Beckham United (MBU) missed the December 5 deadline, but ESPN says the plan to bring a team to Miami would be "at risk."
The current plan is to build a soccer stadium next to Marlins Park in Little Havana. MBU would have to buy land owned by the city and county, as well as some privately owned parcels. Ownership of the stadium would then be transferred to MDCPS to shield the stadium from property taxes, but in return the Beckham group would have to provide the school board with about $1 million in benefits, including supplying instruments to school bands. The school board would also be allowed to use the stadium for functions such as graduations and band competitions, and about 50,000 square feet of the stadium would be used for educational purposes. No public money would go to the construction of the stadium.
One new detail was added at today's meeting, according to Regalado: Beckham's group has reportedly offered to cover the $300,000 or so in legal fees the school district has spent researching the deal.
On December 5, Beckham would need to demonstrate "site control" to MLS officials. In other words, deals with the current landowners must be in place, and a deal transferring the land to MDCPS and a management agreement with the school board must be approved.
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Beckham met with schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho last week at Soho Beach House, and Carvalho left the meeting signaling he was onboard with the plan.
In fact, the biggest sticking point seems to be those private landowners. The Miami Herald reports that some are demanding higher prices than MBU is willing to pay. Though, there's been some indication that the team might try to build a stadium around those private sites if it comes to that.
By December 22, both the school board and City of Miami must sign off on proposed ballot language and deliver it to the county elections department. The referendum would then be placed before voters March 15, an election date that will certainly see higher-than-usual turnout for a local election, because voters will also place their ballots in the presidential primaries.
Anti-stadium sentiment is still high after the boondoggle that was the Marlins Park deal. However, Miami voters — by a nearly 2-to-1 margin in 2014 — approved a deal to allow developer Jeff Berkowitz to buy 1.85 acres of city land to build a giant nail-clipper-shaped observation tower by Biscayne Bay.