A referendum on David Beckham's proposed Major League Soccer stadium was approved today in the most Miami of ways: Three commissioners voted to move the plan forward after multiple weeks of abrupt public proposals, last-minute plan changes, accusations of lawbreaking and corruption, and a whole lot of general bloviating and confusion.
City of Miami commissioners Joe Carollo, Ken Russell, and Keon Hardemon (whose aunt is a paid lobbyist for the Beckham group) voted in favor of the proposal, while Manolo Reyes and Willy Gort, who represents the stadium's district, voted against it.
The approval doesn't necessarily mean the stadium complex at Melreese Country Club will get built. Instead, voters will decide on a public ballot this November whether to waive the city's normal competitive-bidding procedures and let the group financed by Jorge Mas take over the Melreese property. Normally, the city would have to entertain other potential bids before handing over a huge pile of public land to a private entity.
The vote today and ensuing referendum are Beckham's biggest successes since he mounted his MLS-team charge more than five years ago.
No vote yet, but that's 3 yes votes confirmed. Carollo, Hardemon & Russell. David Beckham's proposed mega-complex w/commercial development & a soccer stadium, along w/public soccer fields & a new park to replace Melreese Country Club, will be heading to a referendum in November. https://t.co/VW0Re43o03— Joey Flechas (@joeflech) July 18, 2018
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The Beckham/Mas group repeatedly stated the project will be the "polar opposite" of the rightfully hated Marlins Park taxpayer-robbery debacle, in which the extremely rich vampire Jeffrey Loria persuaded Miami residents to fund his useless stadium even though his team had the cash. But even with the Beckham group promising to cover 100 percent of the building and toxic-waste-remediation costs, the project was still met with major criticism. Notably, the plan's opponents say Beckham and Mas won't be paying the city nearly enough in rent or revenue-sharing fees.
The project was also pitched very fast, and thus, the city is now being sued for possibly violating public-disclosure requirements.
For voters who can look past those issues, the Beckham group is promising to build a gigantic public park, stadium complex, office space, and mall on what is currently a city-owned golf course. Though it's pretty ludicrous to argue that the golf course as it stands is a "green space," it's also hard to argue against the fact that the proposal could be a money-printing bonanza for the Mas family and Beckham's other investors.
Whether any of this matters is now up to voters, who may very well wind up ignoring those concerns in favor of finally bringing a top-tier American soccer team to the nation's largest soccer market.