The Real Deal Miami

Beckham-led group should have registered as lobbyists in MLS stadium bid: Lawsuit

Miami attorney alleges the city ignored its own lobbying laws and violated the charter in leadup to November referendum
January 21, 2019 04:50PM

From left: Jorge Mas, Marcelo Claure, and David Beckham (Credit: Getty Images)

The city of Miami is facing another lawsuit stemming from David Beckham’s bid to build a Major League Soccer stadium.

This time around, a local attorney is alleging the city broke its own lobbying laws when dealing with the group behind the star soccer player-turned investor’s bid. In the November referendum, voters gave the green light to move forward with plans for the site, at the Melreese Country Club.

David Winker charges the city failed to require Beckham, his partners and his attorneys to register as lobbyists, according to the Daily Business Review.

In July, attorney Douglas Muir alleged in a lawsuit that the city didn’t follow its competitive bidding rules for the referendum.

Beckham and his partners aren’t just planning to build a soccer stadium for their Major League Soccer team. Their $1 billion project also calls for at least 750 hotel rooms and a minimum of 1 million square feet of office, retail and commercial space.

The ballot initiative waived competitive bidding for the property, and allows the city to negotiate and execute a 99-year lease with Miami Freedom Park LLC, an entity that includes the retired soccer star, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure, and brothers Jorge and Jose Mas, for about 73 acres of the Melreese golf club site.

The latest lawsuit claims some Miami city officials behaved more like “PR agents and cheerleaders” for the stadium instead of demanding more transparency over who controls Miami Freedom Park LLC. Winker alleges that Beckham and his partners only registered as lobbyists after Winker filed an ethics complaint last year. Winker is also alleging the city violated a charter requirement for competitive bidding of the Melreese site.

The city said it’s working with the ethics department to ensure it complies with codes. An attorney for Miami Freedom Park called the allegations “frivolous” and meritless, according to the Business Review. [DBR]Katherine Kallergis