Beckham stadium czar says landowners could “blow deal up” with high sale price demands

Tim Leiweke, the former AEG president and more recently former Toronto F.C. CEO who is now spearheading David Beckham’s Miami soccer stadium campaign, declared yesterday that the owners of private land targeted for a new stadium next to Marlins Park “probably will blow this deal up” with unrealistic demands:

“They know what we’re doing, and unfortunately they’ve let that create an absolutely unrealistic conversation. They can absolutely blow this deal up, and they probably will blow this deal up,” he said. “We’re willing to overpay. We just don’t want to be the stupidest guys on the face of the earth.”

If the negotiations fail, Leiweke said Beckham’s group has a fallback plan at another undisclosed site. He also said Miami Beckham United hasn’t ruled out looking to a different city. “We do have a backup,” Leiweke said. “We will not be held hostage.”

Now, this could be a case of some private landholders looking to cash in since they know they have Beckham’s group over a barrel — one daycare operator said the team negotiators told him his price was “reasonable,” while a Beckham attorney told the Miami Herald he’d asked for 30 times market value, so the he-said-she-said here is pretty extreme. Way more likely, though, given that Leiweke isn’t grumbling in public, but rather to the Herald editorial board, is that this is a way to put pressure on the private landholders: If you don’t agree to our price, we’re going to move to another city and everyone will hate you and throw eggs at the kids going to your daycare.

Leiweke has been known to deliver “we’ll take our ball and go home” threats before during AEG’s L.A. NFL stadium negotiations — he got fired from that job before anything came to fruition, though, so hard to say whether he would have gone through with it. My guess is that a couple of weeks from now we’ll see both sides agreeing to meet in the middle, but if the private landowners do want to blow up the deal and stay put, they’re certainly within their rights to do that. Unless Miami tries to use eminent domain to seize their property, which so far everyone involved has said they want to avoid, but there is a long tradition of doing so.


13 comments on “Beckham stadium czar says landowners could “blow deal up” with high sale price demands

  1. “We just don’t want to be the stupidest guys on the face of the earth.”…………..Translation: As long as we are the one’s ripping people off, then everything is okay.

  2. I think the last part of Leiweke’s quote got cut off.
    “We will not be held hostage.” …”because we’re the hostage takers here. Stop stealing from our playbook.”

  3. This could turn out to be the best sports stadium deal in the last 30 years in Florida. The city just gave the Heat a multi million dollar gift a few months ago. Besides paying for land and stadium he might also have to build a school.

  4. JC, I know you keep saying that (on every post related to soccer), but aside from the fact that Republic FC claims it will be privately funded, do we have any evidence that this is the case? Republic did try to get a sales-tax kickback approved last year, after all, so it’s not like they’re averse to using public funds.

  5. It is unconfirmed. However, the team’s website states it will be privately finaned.

  6. It is unconfirmed. However, the team’s website states it will be privately financed. However, the contingency is acceptance as a MLS franchise.

  7. The list of stadiums where team owners said they were “privately financed” and they sought gobs of subsidies is a long one, running from the new Yankee Stadium (over $1 billion in public costs!) though, well, this proposed Beckham deal.

    I’m not saying Republic FC’s owners necessarily have something up their sleeve — Orlando City’s owners, after all, genuinely are building a new stadium without subsidies, though they did initially try to get them. But I’d rather wait to see the actual financing plan before saying we can take them at their word.

  8. It wouldn’t shock me. After all, the Kings remained after receiving huge subsidies for their new arena in downtown Sacramento. Also, to my understanding, the 49ers have partnered with the Republic and may be suggesting subsidies as part of the new stadium project. However, it wouldn’t bode well for their franchise to state they were going to privately fund a new stadium and then renege on that commitment. In comparison, their soccer stadium project is far ahead of those being proposed for the two cities selected instead of Sacramento for new MLS teams.

  9. Well, they wouldn’t say they were reneging. They would just say, “We’re funding the stadium with private money, but we do need to keep some of the taxes that come from stadium spending,” etc.

    I’m not sure I’d say Sacramento is far ahead of Minnesota. Minneapolis’s stadium looked like a done deal, too, until it turned out there was a snag over the issue of property tax kickbacks. If Sacramento’s financing is all worked out, yes, it’s ahead, but we don’t know that yet, do we?

  10. Sacramento is contingent on becoming an MLS team. Once that occurs, I’m certain we’ll know more about their financial status. However, attendance for the team has been excellent and, since their inception in 2012, they have been a financial success.

  11. SRFC also has one other major factor in its favor – the land on which it is fixing to place the stadium is already in private hands of the ownership group, and is already (for the most part) cleared of any existing buildings aboveground.

    The only “snags” that may occur is if there is a buried locomotive or some other sort of concrete bunker (Hello, Avaya Stadium!) or if they find an old Chinese cemetery that’s rumored to be in that part of town.

    As the team bigwigs are putting it, all they need to hear is “You’re in MLS”, and they press the “Go” button on the stadium. Hell, they could possibly even do a season at Bonney if MLS would let them in for the ’17 season.

  12. I applaud the Sacramento effort. I believe it has enormous potential as a sports community. The new Kings arena will bring life to an underutilized downtown. If anything, should the Republic become the next MLS franchise, I’m hoping the A’s & Raiders take notice and consider heading north some 80 miles.