Beckham’s latest stadium funding plan maybe not too awful, still might not be enough to win approval

The city of Miami has published the agenda for its July 12 commission meeting on David Beckham’s MLS stadium proposal, and it includes some details of the proposed funding plan. And, get this, they don’t appear to be that terrible for taxpayers:

Beckham and his partners, which include local business giants Jorge and Jose Mas, want to turn Melreese golf course into a 73-acre soccer, commercial and hotel complex and a 58-acre park. All would be privately funded under the terms of a 39-year lease, which could be extended to 99 years. The city would receive annual rent of about $4 million to $5 million, and the owners would pay taxes on the rezoned park land, which does not currently contribute to the tax rolls.

To clarify: Beckham and the Mases would pay for building the development, would pay fair market value for the land (as determined by an independent appraiser — that $4 to 5 million figure is just an estimate), and would pay property taxes (or payments in lieu of taxes) on the land. And the team would also pay an additional $20 million (spread out over 30 years) to turn a little under half of the golf course land into a public park, which isn’t really worth $20 million in present value because the payments are spaced out into the future, but if that’s what a public park will really cost, whatever.

Keeping in mind that this is just a commission agenda likely written up by pro-stadium forces, and so could yet have fine print we don’t know about — and also this would be a no-bid deal, so we’d be taking the appraisers’ word for whether the lease price was really fair market value — this looks like a pretty fair deal for Miami residents financially. The only issue will be whether locals want to sell a public golf course for private development at all, even if it means getting a (smaller) public park and a pro soccer team out of the deal. And given Miami’s past experience with sports stadiums (cough Marlins cough), that might not be an easy sell:

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…

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.

It would be extremely ironic if Beckham finally came up with a stadium plan in which he actually agreed to pay his fair share, and still got turned down by voters because they just straight-out hate 1) stadium deals 2) losing a golf course, 3) soccer, or 4) him. Though come to think of it, given how the Beckham saga has gone so far, it would be the exact opposite of ironic.

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9 comments on “Beckham’s latest stadium funding plan maybe not too awful, still might not be enough to win approval

  1. Has the proximity to the airport been addressed? Seems to me the FAA might have a problem with a stadium (and its light towers) 3,500 feet from the end of a runway at a busy airport.

    1. Pilots are subject to a blanket prohibition on operating near large sports stadiums when games are being played. However, if the new stadium seats fewer than than 30,000, and if it’s for soccer, not US football or MLB, then it should be OK. See last paragraph, page 3.

      But this doesn’t address your point about the height of the light towers. The golf course is directly under the flight path of planes departing and arriving on runway 9/27. Surely the airspace will have to be taken into consideration for these plans to go forward.

      1. Hi David, I appreciate your comments and suggestions. I grew up in the neighborhood. In fact, as an adult I played both baseball and softball. Only softball and kids baseball (under 12) was allowed due FAA restrictions. We are talking 55 years plus with no adult baseball or football. I don’t think, it’s going to happen any time soon without major changes to the runway situation at the current moment.

  2. Is the golf course being redeveloped (maybe) for any reason other than that someone else wants the land?

    Is it still a ‘working’ business or is it losing money every year etc?

    Just wondering if it is well subscribed or an albatross around tax payer’s necks (as some municipal courses have become…. and I say this as a golfer, it’s true… too many courses, too few players). If the latter, the city might be very keen to see it redeveloped for another purpose, and other courses in the area likely would benefit from improved traffic if there is one less course to syphon off customers.

    On the other hand, if it is a relatively low cost public course and is well subscribed, it’s possible it is far more needed than an MLS stadium or one of the privately owned courses nearby (*cough*)

  3. I was reading the Harper’s article (it came in the mail) about the “death of a great American city.” About New York.

    Good article, altogether, I mean you know. All of a sudden the guy says something like, “according to journalist Neil deMause.” I was sitting there freaking out. Like, “aaaaaaah, oh deMause!!!!!!!” Awesome dude.

  4. And oh yeah, that’s enough already Becks. Go give rugby a try or something, you douche.

  5. It does sound like a reasonably good deal for the city, assuming voters/councillors are ok with surrendering a public golf course to have a private (tax paying) development built. In any “normal” context, of course, a business new to the area would buy undeveloped land (or serviced lots at greater cost) from the city to set up it’s operation in, and not require the destruction of a public asset in order to set up shop.

    Does the Mas/Beckham group actually own the land in Overtown as the story suggests? I understood they had negotiated options to purchase but had not necessarily exercised all of same.

    If they do own that land, one option would be a land swap for part of the Melreese district that could see the Overtown lands used for whatever public purpose the city chooses (up to and including constructing a golf academy to support the youth programs at Melreese that would be lost, I guess).

    If I were a Miami voter (and I’m not…), I’m still not sure I’d be willing to surrender one active public asset for another (even if part of it will generate new tax revenue). However, as stadium deals go, this is a pretty good one for the city (if it arrives as presented).

    The linked article shows the $20m in payments over both 20 and 30 years. Do we know for certain which is correct?

    1. The one thay says 20 years says $666,000 a year, so “20” is likely a typo, because math.

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