David Beckham can jump into the next phase of his soccer franchise dream now that he has the land to build a stadium in Miami’s urban core.
On Tuesday, the Miami-Dade County Commission voted 9-4 to sell nearly 3 acres in Overtown to Miami Beckham United to complete an assemblage that also includes 6 privately owned acres the group paid $19 million for last year.
“Now is the time for MLS to move forward in helping us deliver the soccer club that Miami has been waiting for,” Miami Beckham said in a statement. “We look forward to working with the Miami community to bring our vision for the neighborhood to life.”
Beckham has the next 60 days to finalize a deal with MLS for his Miami franchise, which includes league approval of the stadium site, the ownership team and financing. “We need time,” Beckham attorney Neisen Kasdin told commissioners. “We now have control of the property, which is a critical element.”
The closing for the land sale is at least two months away. Beckham agreed to pay $9 million, of which $4 million would be paid over four years at a 5 percent interest rate after an initial $5 million at closing.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, chief architect of the sale agreement, hailed the vote as the conclusion to a “lengthy, difficult, but necessary” process to ensure county taxpayers were properly compensated.
“I firmly believe that the sale of this property, as well as the subsequent soccer stadium, will leave a lasting positive impact on the community,” Gimenez said in a statement. “I can also assure the residents of Miami-Dade County – particularly residents of Overtown and Spring Garden – that this is unlike any previous agreement.”
Since the agreement between Beckham and Gimenez was announced in early May, Overtown and Spring Garden residents have expressed skepticism about a soccer stadium in their backyard – citing the lack of parking, potential for traffic gridlock and questioning the promise of 50 permanent jobs.
During the commission meeting, some Spring Gardens homeowners also criticized the terms of the sale. For instance, resident Charlie Hand questioned why the county’s sale price was $68 per square foot when Beckham paid roughly $300 a square foot for the privately owned acres next door last year.
“If someone came along and paid $300,000 for the lot next to my home and then came and offered me $200,000 for my house, I would tell them to pound sand,” Hand said. “[Beckham United] comes in and gets a sweet deal.”
Miami activist Bruce Matheson also blasted the sale price per square foot. “The county’s discounted sales price amounts to a $4 million subsidy to [Beckham United],” Matheson said. “Taxpayers deserve the same price per square foot that the previous owners of the adjoining land sold it for.”
Commissioner Jean Monestime, one of the four “no” votes, said he did not like the terms of the contract, either. “This is a deal [Beckham United] could have paid all cash for,” Monestime said. “I feel the organization has not felt the incentive into making a commitment to invest here. Or maybe it is a transaction in transition until other partners come to purchase the team and the stadium.”