MIAMI (WSVN) - A brand-new, billion dollar soccer and retail complex in Miami is now a done deal.
The City of Miami and the developer had been locked in a stadium showdown for months, and on Thursday night, Miami commissioners agreed to kick off a new era of sports in South Florida.
City commissioners voted 4-1 in favor of the proposal, with the exception of Commissioner Manolo Reyes.
Several people in the audience at the commission hearing erupted into applause and cheered after the motion passed.
City commissioners joined Inter Miami CF co-owner Jorge Mas and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez at a news conference held after the vote.
“An amazing day for the voters of our city, for the fans of fútbol and Inter Miami, and I want to sincerely thank the commissioners, the mayor, everyone who was involved in this process,” said Mas. “No matter how difficult, how long, how frustrating, good days and bad days, I always knew that this would happen.”
The facility will include a 25,000 seat stadium, shopping center, hotel, office park and public park.
The Miami Freedom Park soccer complex will be built over the current Melreese Golf Course.
“I am grateful to the people of the City of Miami for trusting us to negotiate what I believe is the best sports deal in the history of this country,” said Suarez.
But prior to the vote, there was a heated and lengthy meeting.
Commissioner Ken Russell expressed some concerns about the deal.
“If you think I’m going to let this whole project go just because I’m getting $5 million for a baywalk, I can find other ways to get $5 million for a baywalk,” he said.
Reyes, meanwhile, argued the project would not be smart investment. At one point, he was planning to leave the meeting.
“From the get-go, I said that we should go to competitive bidding, and I talked against the contract, the way that it was presented,” he said.
What commissioners ended up voting on included some changes to the contract, but they ultimately moved the project forward.
“Our job here was not to have fun. Our job here was not to be a cheerleader,” said Russell. “Our job was to protect the finances of the city, protect the green space of the city and make sure that we fight to produce the best possible product that our residents can enjoy for years and years to come, and I’m very proud that we did that today.”
One of the commissioners mentioned Thursday night that the deal they negotiated is three times the amount of the minimum amount that voters had approved.
Soccer icon David Beckham, another co-owner of Inter Miami CF, took to Instagram to react to the commission’s vote. He thanked the team’s fans, Suarez, the commissioners and fellow co-owners Jorge and Jose Mas “for believing in my dream and making it a reality.”
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