(WSVN) - Miami voters are set to decide whether the city should move forward with plans to build a Major League Soccer stadium on a publicly-owned golf course. 7’s Craig Stevens looks at the issue.
David Beckham, Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami: “Yes, we will want to bring some of the best players in football, in soccer, to Miami.”
It has been nearly five years since soccer icon David Beckham announced he’s bringing Major League Soccer to South Florida.
From day one, the issue was where to put a stadium. After looking at several sites, he and his investors settled on Melreese Park — the only golf course owned by the City of Miami, located just east of the airport.
Jorge Mas, Inter Miami CF: “I want to create an environment where they can go with their family and have a good meal; they can enjoy themselves, that there’s entertainment, that there’s things to do after the game, before the game, a true community around the stadium.”
The $1 billion soccer stadium complex will be called Freedom Park. But to build it, voters have to approve an exception to the City’s competitive bidding law. That would allow the City to lease the land to Beckham’s group and let them build the stadium without following normal county rules.
City Commissioner Manolo Reyes said traffic alone makes this a bad idea.
Manolo Reyes, Miami Commissioner District 4: “It’s a major development. It’s a 500-room hotel. It is a million-square-feet of office. It is shopping center. It is restaurants in the middle of that park next to the airport.”
Reyes supports soccer but said he has received thousands of petitions from residents who are against this location.
Manolo Reyes: “This has been pushed down our throats and our voter’s throats without any previous analysis of what would be the consequences of having that major development there.”
Some of the biggest concerns have come from the smallest members of the community.
Child: “It breaks my heart to know I may or may not have this place.”
Melreese Golf Course is home to the First Tee youth golf program, and the children are concerned they won’t have a place to play.
But Mas said this is the perfect site and the perfect time for a big development in Miami.
Jorge Mas: “It’s a project that brings jobs. It brings 13,000 jobs to our community that otherwise would not be here. Brings $40 million to our tax rolls — very difficult to find a project that does that, no tax subsidies or tax payer dollars. A new iconic project for all of our community and a new park.”
If residents vote to turn Melreese Park into a soccer stadium complex, there’s still one more vote by the commission before the deal is approved.
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