Clock running down on Miami stadium deal, Beckham tells school board (but it’s his clock)

Whoa, David Beckham’s Miami MLS stadium project has a deadline, according to the Miami New Times!

According to a timeline given to school board members today, the sports icon and his business partners have until just December 5 to have a plan ironed out and presented to Major League Soccer. That doesn’t mean a plan has to be totally approved by then, it just means that a there has to be a plan to approve in the first place.

That’s … okay, hang on a minute. This is what Beckham himself is telling the Miami-Dade school board, which he would presumably only do in order to increase the pressure on them to approve his deal by which the school board would take over ownership of his new stadium in order to get him off the hook for property taxes. There’s no particular reason for MLS to set a December 5 deadline, other than to help Beckham get his stadium deal pushed through — so I’m going to say it’s safe to assume this is a two-minute warning, and not anything real.

The board seems likely to approve its part of the deal anyway, with the bigger holdups being getting private landowners to sell their property, and a public referendum to approve the deal that would be held on March 15. I can’t wait to see the selfies that Beckham poses for with residents to try to win that one.

Indy Eleven owner backtracks on renovations, still wants $82m stadium no one wants to build him

When last we visited with Indy Eleven owner president Peter Wilt back in May, he was cursing the Indiana state legislature for foiling his plan to build a new stadium with other people’s money, and vowing that he’ll be back, this isn’t over! Now, six months later … he’ll still be back, and this still isn’t over!

Wilt said the team remains hamstrung by its makeshift home at IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium on the far-west side of downtown, which was built in 1982 for track and field events.

“It doesn’t give you long-term hope or opportunities for large success,” Wilt said. “We’re open to all thoughts, but renovation of Carroll Stadium doesn’t seem to be a workable solution for the team.”…

“It doesn’t even have concourses where people can take shelter in case of rain,” Wilt said. “We had to completely evacuate the stadium twice this year when we had storms roll through.”

Yeah, that doesn’t sound optimal. You know what you might want to do, then? Build a roof. Or, hell, take out a loan and build a new stadium yourself, instead of a ticket tax scheme that wouldn’t have come close to paying off the public’s costs.

Anyway, this mostly seems to be a preemptive attempt to walk back Wilt’s earlier comments that he’d consider renovating the existing stadium, because now that everything is back on the table, he wants a new stadium, dammit. But he’s open to all thoughts — except for those involving renovation or paying for a new stadium himself, because you don’t get “large success” that way.

Day care center wants $30m from Beckham for stadium land, things get even crazier from there

We now know exactly how much the owner of a day care center on the proposed site of David Beckham’s new soccer stadium wants for his land:

According to Miami-Dade County property appraiser records, the property was assessed in 2015 for $368,000. But the owner is demanding a whopping $30 million.

That’s, um, yeah, a lot.

There are two possibilities here: Either the owner of Candy House Day Care (because nothing says “your children’s health is our concern” like “candy house”) doesn’t want to sell and is just putting out a ridiculous price to see what happened, or is hoping to extract a huge payday from Beckham knowing that the stadium can’t be built around him. Or can it?

“They could build around some of those properties,” Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado said Friday following a meeting with Tim Leiweke, an equity partner of Miami Beckham United. “That would be Plan B.”

That would also be crazy, given that the site already seems awfully small for a soccer stadium. Though, hey, kids love to play soccer, right? Maybe there’s a solution here that could save Beckham on player salaries too, if you catch my drift.

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.


St. Paul excitedly announces MLS stadium plan still in same incomplete state as before

St. Paul city officials and Minnesota United execs made their stadium announcement on Friday as expected, and here’s what they’ve agreed on:

In front of dozens of soccer fans and business boosters, Coleman and McGuire announced a deal in principle to build a privately funded, $120 million, 19,000-seat stadium on 10 acres of vacant asphalt in St. Paul’s Midway area.

Some hoops remain, including discussions with state lawmakers over a series of proposed tax exemptions. The mayor said he had yet to pin down costs for public infrastructure improvements such as green space, parking and sidewalks.

In other words, pretty much exactly where we were in early September, only this time the two parties have held a press conference announcing where they are in negotiations. The state legislation still needs to sign off on a property tax break for the team, a lease still needs to be written, and while no one mentioned anything on Friday about kicking back property taxes from surrounding development to pay for new infrastructure, there’s been no indication that’s off the table, either.

There’s been lots of media talk about how this is a “coup” for St. Paul; honestly it’s hard to say, without knowing the details of what it’s likely to cost the city or how long United can go before threatening to move and/or demand stadium improvements. Minneapolis may not get to have the team within its city limits, but residents can still go see games across the river, and the land that would have gone to a soccer stadium is still available for another redevelopment that might be open more than a few dozen days a year, and actually pay its property taxes as Mayor Betsy Hodges has insisted. There’s even the possibility — depending on the details of what St. Paul works out with United, whenever that happens — of a win-win here, where the city with the land that’s harder to develop gets a stadium at a price it can afford, while the city where tax breaks for soccer would make no sense at all gets to let United be somebody else’s problem.

That’s assuming a soccer stadium actually helps promote other surrounding development, of course, which is an extremely dubious notion, given that it’s never happened before anywhere ever. But it’s easy to call a glass half-full when you still can’t see inside it.


Miami mayor promises MLS stadium “renaissance,” forgetting he said two months ago that wouldn’t happen

Miami city mayor Tomás Regalado, who is currently pushing for the Miami-Dade School Board to buy David Beckham’s planned soccer stadium to exempt it from property taxes — that’s the school board that includes as a member Regalado’s daughter Raquel, who just happens to be running for Miami-Dade county mayor — has touted the project as a boon to its surrounding neighborhood:

That’s odd, and not just because Little Havana already got a whopping huge Marlins baseball stadium at massive public expense, to no notable renaissance effect. As Tim Elfrink of the Miami New Times notes, as recently as two months ago Regalado was warning that a soccer stadium wouldn’t do squat for economic development:

He was elected, in part, because he opposed the putrid Marlins Park deal. And just this summer, he told the Herald he’d learned his lesson about promising economic dividends from stadium projects. “I don’t think we should promise economic development for the area if the soccer stadium is built,” Regalado said in August. “I don’t think that should be the sales pitch because it’s not a reality.”

You know, screw all this using time machines to cheat at sports gambling. If I had Doc Brown’s DeLorean, I’d use it to set up a debate between August 2015 Tomás Regalado and October 2015 Tomás Regalado. Sure, it might destroy the universe, but that would be a small price to pay for the entertainment value.

St. Paul to announce something about Minnesota United stadium at 1 pm, set your clocks!

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and the owners of Minnesota United have called a press conference for 1 pm today, and if you don’t know what it’s about, you really haven’t been following:

The city’s monthslong courtship of the MLS and Minnesota United, which was awarded an MLS expansion franchise last spring, is about to be rewarded, according to an e-mail sent Thursday by St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce President Matt Kramer to board members.

In it, Kramer wrote that Mayor Chris Coleman and United team officials plan to announce at 1 p.m. Friday that the MLS has signed off on putting a new franchise in St. Paul and that a soccer stadium will be built at University and Snelling avenues in the city’s Midway neighborhood.

Does this mean that the mayor and United have already agreed on a lease, just one week after talks began? Or just that they’re agreeing to pursue a stadium deal in St. Paul and relegate Minneapolis to the far back burner? What does this mean for the state legislature signing off on the property tax exemption United owner Bill McGuire says he wants as part of any deal? Stay tuned for 1 pm, I guess, though from past experience I’d expect more snazzy renderings and promises of economic development falling from the sky than actual financial details. There’s a first time for everything, though!

Beckham could seek to duck property taxes by having Miami school board own stadium

The Miami city commission is preparing to vote on David Beckham’s new stadium plan in December, with a public vote to follow on March 15 (the date of Florida’s presidential primary), though the stadium could end up actually being owned by Miami-Dade County or the Miami-Dade School Board, and I’m sorry, what?

[Beckham] and his partners would pay the city a “management fee” of $850,000 a year over an initial term of 60 years, and potentially two additional 20-year terms at the team’s option.

Half of the fee could be paid by a foundation associated with the team’s ownership, and would be used to promote “youth education and athletics,” and to “construct, operate and maintain soccer facilities within the city,” according to the document.

The city, in exchange, would spare Miami Beckham United from paying annual property taxes by deeding 6.5 acres of its land and vacated streets to Miami-Dade County, or — in a new, politically intriguing possibility — the Miami-Dade School Board, both of which have tax-exempt status.

Handing over ownership of a stadium to a public entity in order to duck property taxes is standard operating procedure for U.S. sports teams, of course, and Beckham had already hinted at doing so here. (I’ve previously spitballed $35 million in value from such a property tax break, but that’s a very, very rough guess.) Having the school board own a stadium, though, is certainly thinking outside the box, and is apparently motivated less by tax benefits than by the political calculations:

[Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos] Gimenez reportedly expressed his amazement at the switch and said that he thought the politics involved were pretty clear, since [school board member and 2016 county mayoral candidate Raquel] Regalado’s father, Tomás Regalado, is mayor of the city negotiating with Beckham. … The school system’s entry into the plan would reduce Gimenez to a much more minor role in the soccer talks, while potentially thrusting Regalado into the spotlight as the school board member whose district includes Marlins Park.

So basically, in order to help his daughter win a county election, a city mayor is trying to get the sham ownership of a private soccer stadium transferred from the county to the school board. Not that it really matters from a stadium-subsidy perspective — Beckham would be ducking the same taxes either way — but it’s a pretty remarkable indication of the craziness of the political … oh, wait, I forgot, Florida. Never mind, it’s just par for the course.

St. Paul opens MLS lease talks, belatedly agrees not to violate state secrecy laws in doing so

The city of St. Paul is officially opening stadium lease talks with the owners of Minnesota United, and good news, everybody! City officials have agreed not to violate state law by keeping the talks secret:

On Wednesday, the St. Paul Port Authority, the city’s economic development arm voted to strike language from a proposed agreement that had pledged to keep information related to the deal “nonpublic to the fullest extent of the law.”

Negotiators will comply with state law, which makes all government data public unless it’s specifically classified otherwise, said Louis Jambois, the port authority’s president.

“There’s always that tension, that interplay between what’s public, what’s private,” he said. “How do we get something done in the public domain, in the public realm, but protect the privacy of the folks who may want, who may have a right, to have their information stay nonpublic?”

Or as Met Council chair Adam Duininck told the Minneapolis Star Tribune: “Sometimes the lawyers just get in the way.” Somebody want to tell Kevin Johnson?

Miami to declare Marlins’ stadium “blighted” so it can spend tax money on Beckham MLS stadium next door

The public subsidy details are starting to emerge for David Beckham’s proposed MLS stadium next to the Miami Marlins‘ baseball stadium: On top of about $35 million in property tax breaks, it now looks like Miami-Dade County would be buying the land for Beckham, and doing so by creating a redevelopment agency to use city and county tax dollars to pay for the stadium land and a possible light rail station:

The agency’s boundaries are suggested to be Flagler Street to the South, Northwest 22nd Avenue to the west, and the Miami River to the north and east, though the resolution says the study being sought could expand that area if needed.

Community redevelopment agencies by statute create trust funds that retain 95% of the increase in tax revenues from their area above the taxes that were collected before the agency was born. The agency uses that money to finance or refinance any redevelopment it undertakes. In this case, it would include stadium land and Metromover construction, though it could include more.

This would be tax-increment financing, in other words, with all the attendant problems thereof. And because redevelopment agencies can only be used for areas in need of redevelopment, this would require the area to be declared “slum and blighted” — including the Marlins’ stadium that opened next door just three years ago in the last attempt at revitalization. This is not going to help get people to Marlins’ games.