David Beckham’s Miami soccer stadium dream faces public land’s gatekeepers

MIAMI – David Beckham’s dream of building a proper home for his Inter Miami is facing the gatekeepers of the public land that he and billionaire Jorge Mas have chosen.

They want to develop about 130 acres — including a 25,000-seat soccer stadium — at the International Links Melreese Country Club, 1802 NW 37th Ave., an 18-hole public golf course with a driving range and a clubhouse.

Miami commissioners, who are meeting Thursday, must decide if the deal as it stands is in the best interest of the city. Mas got a grand round of applause during the meeting after he said he wants to “ensure” the city is “getting a good deal.”

“This will give you the ability to cut a resident’s taxes,” Mas said about the income for the city.

Mas said their long-term plan is to have a professional women’s soccer team play out of the InterMiami facility in Fort Lauderdale and to run education programs for both boys and girls.


The investors behind the home of Miami’s Major League Soccer team would have to spend big to move out of their current Fort Lauderdale home. Mas said he is environmentally remediating the entire park.

To build the stadium, they will have to invest in cleaning up the arsenic and lead resulting from the incinerator ash that was used as a filler before the golf course was built. During the meeting, Miami Commissioner Ken Russell praised the “incredibly sophisticated” remediation plan.

Mas said he is creating a new 58-acre public park. They will have to pay property taxes and the cost of leasing the land as part of a no-bid 99-year lease. A commercial real estate that may or may not happen.


Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who was reelected in November, has long supported the Miami Freedom Park project. Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla represents District 1, where the public land is. Commissioner Joe Carollo represents District 3, a neighboring area south of the Dolphin Expressway. They are both supporting the project.

“Let’s be a big city,” Diaz de la Portilla said.

Commissioner Christine King represents District 5, which includes neighborhoods northeast of the stadium. She chaired the meeting and said there needs to be a compliance piece and a requirement for minority participation in the commercial space.


“I do want to see some of this money come into District 5,” King said adding, “What I am trying to do for my district is to create wealth.”

Carollo said this is “a once in a lifetime opportunity” for the University of Miami Hurricanes. Mas celebrated the proximity that UM students would have to the games. Carollo said the location was central and the hotel and retail space were going to help the project succeed. King applauded the deal’s inclusion of the unions in the hospitality piece.

Pat Santangelo, a retired Florida Highway Patrol trooper and the co-founder of Little Haiti FC soccer club for kids, told commissioners the organization behind the stadium has already supported the children in his club.


Commissioner Manolo Reyes has been standing firmly against it, but on Thursday he had a long list of requests for the investors including $5 million for traffic mitigation. The Cuban-American represents District 4, less than 10 blocks south of the golf course’s southern boundary.


“My business is to protect the people as much as I can,” Reyes said.

To stand against the deal, William “Billy Corben” Cohen recently launched the “Don’t Bend Over For Beckham” campaign. The documentary film director behind “Cocaine Cowboys” and “The U” recruited David Samson, the former president of the Miami Marlins.

“Scheme is worse than the Marlins Park boondoggle,” Cohen wrote in an April 19th tweet that had been shared more than 1,080 times by Thursday afternoon.

“The voters overwhelmingly chose the soccer stadium over the country club. But I will not vote for a deal if it’s not good for the city,” Russell wrote on April 23rd in response to the opposition campaign.

On Nov. 6, 2018, about 60% of voters approved a referendum authorizing the city to negotiate the 99-year lease for about 70 acres with Miami Freedom Park LLC.


During the Thursday meeting, Carollo denounced the opposition campaign.

“Mr. Samson doesn’t live in the city,” Carollo said.

5 pm report

David Beckham’s dream of building a proper home for his Inter Miami is facing the gatekeepers of the public land that he and billionaire Jorge Mas have chosen.

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Inter Miami’s response to campaign

Read the draft agreement folks.
• public funding will be used for arsenic cleanup
• rent payment is way below. There was no agreed price in ’18, only negotiations
• it’s 130 acres of parkland, read the city charter
• many were sold on a stadium, not other structures

— Daniel Suarez (@SuarezMiami) April 20, 2022

This is a developing story.

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