Update 12:30 p.m.: Douglas Muir says a local judge has set a hearing on July 24 to hear his legal challenge to the stadium proposal.
Before David Beckham's group abruptly ditched plans for a stadium in Overtown, one of the biggest roadblocks to that proposal was an ongoing lawsuit by a local activist who claimed the city broke the rules by agreeing to sell the group public land without bidding for other offers.
Now Beckham is facing exactly that same challenge over his new plan to lease the city-owned Melreese Country Club for his Major League Soccer stadium. Local attorney Douglas Muir filed the legal challenge in Miami-Dade Circuit Court this morning, arguing that Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and commissioners violated the city's charter by negotiating a no-bid deal for the property with the soccer team. Muir is seeking an expediting hearing on the issue.
Muir is a third-generation Miamian who says he's a sports fan who supports the idea of an MLS team coming to town. But he says he wants Beckham's group to play by the rules.
"I'm bringing this challenge on behalf of the public, because anyone who wants to make use of public lands should have to take part in a competitive process," Muir says. "It's not right to have one individual group monopolize the city's resources."
Muir's suit hinges on Sections 29-A and 29-B of the city charter, which govern how Miami can lease or sell taxpayer-owned property. He argues the charter spells out that the city must give the public ample notice and a chance to compete for any sale or lease of city-owned land.
Beckham's Melreese plan — which calls for the country club to be turned into a huge retail, hotel, and entertainment complex developed by brothers Jorge and Jose Mas — wasn't unveiled in full until after a lengthy public comment session at a city commission meeting last Thursday.
Muir was among the first public speakers at that meeting, where he raised the same issues outlined in his lawsuit and demanded the city open the project to public bidding.
By returning to the commission today with a new detailed plan, which still hasn't been opened to public comment or competitive bidding, the city is again violating the charter, Muir alleges. His suit also says packaging such a complex deal into one question on November's ballot would violate a state statute that requires referendums to tackle only one, clear proposal.
Muir, who graduated from the University of Miami School of Law in 2012, says he's a huge sports fan and a Hurricanes season ticketholder.
"I like soccer. I've been enjoying the World Cup, and I'm excited for MLS when they do come to Miami," he says. "But at the same time, this isn't about soccer. This is about a land deal."
His lawsuit names the City of Miami, Suarez, and every city commissioner. A city spokesperson didn't immediately respond to a request for comment about the lawsuit.
Beckham's latest hearing is scheduled to begin later this morning in Dinner Key.
Update 12 p.m.: Victoria Méndez, Miami's city attorney, says "We look forward to defending the city’s interests in court."
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