MIAMI (AP) David Beckham’s latest soccer plan for Miami might be decided by the city’s voters.
His target: a golf course.
Beckham is scheduled to appear before the Miami city commission next week as he and his partners aim to move closer to picking a stadium location for their Major League Soccer franchise. The Beckham group’s latest proposal calls for a 28,000-seat stadium on the site of what is now the Melreese Country Club, a public golf course owned by the city that sits near Miami International Airport.
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If commissioners approve, voters would decide on Nov. 6 whether to change the city’s charter and allow what would be a no-bid deal to lease 73 acres at the Melreese site to the group. The deal Beckham is proposing calls for the city to collect nearly $140 million in rent payments over 39 years, a rate of roughly $3.5 million annually.
Beckham’s group would pay an additional $20 million over 30 years to help fund a planned 58-acre park on the site.
The former Manchester United, Real Madrid and LA Galaxy star and business partner Jorge Mas are listed on the city’s agenda for the July 12 meeting, described as scheduled to make a “personal appearance” and “special presentation.” They will ask commissioners to put the measure before voters, though it’s certain that not everyone at the meeting will be supporting the idea.
Petitions are circulating to save the course, where Tiger Woods has appeared for clinics in the past. Longtime LPGA star Cristie Kerr, a Miami native, has voiced opposition to the Melreese plan in recent months, as has fellow Miami native pro Erik Compton.
“Please help protect this beautiful green space, this public golf course and this home to amazing youth programs,” Compton wrote on Twitter .
Beckham’s group also wants to bring a massive technology park to the site, as well as an underground parking facility, public soccer fields, 500 new hotel rooms, a conference center, retail stores, restaurants and more. The Beckham franchise, when it gets going, will also bring a training center and an academy focused on developing local players to the Miami area.
The stadium-location quest is just the latest drawn-out chapter in Beckham’s five-years-and-counting marathon to bring MLS back to Miami. The Miami Fusion played from 1998-2001, folding because of poor attendance.
Beckham and MLS announced in January that the franchise would be coming to Miami, but nearly every detail about the club remains unclear. There’s no definitive start date – 2020 has been mentioned repeatedly, even though no new stadium could possibly be ready by then – as well as no team name, no logo, no colors, no coaching staff and no front-office personnel.
More than a year ago, Miami-Dade County commissioners approved a deal to sell Beckham nearly three acres of county land for $9 million with the belief that it would be the last parcel he needed for a stadium site in the city’s Overtown neighborhood. But that site was never the preferred choice for Beckham and his group anyway, with the original hope being to build on the waterfront near the Port of Miami.
The Overtown site now seems all but doomed, though it’s unclear what would happen if city commissioners or voters block the latest Beckham plan.