Beckham to talk with Broward County about talking about MLS stadium

That’s show Miami-Dade County for rejecting David Beckham’s preferred MLS stadium sites: Beckham is now threatening to move to Broward County instead, or threatening to think about moving to Broward County, or something like that:

[Broward County commissioner Stacy] Ritter said Brian Ballard, one of the team’s lobbyists, conveyed that Beckham’s group is now willing to listen to what Broward officials have to say. Those talks are expected soon, she said.

It’s too soon to tell the level of the Beckham group’s interest in this idea, but at least they told Ritter that Beckham & Co. are open to considering it.

So, either Broward is on the table, or it’s on the table as leverage to get Miami to give Beckham the waterfront site that he neeeeeeeeeds. One of those.

Beckham has rejected Miami-Dade’s proposed site near Marlins Park, incidentally, because he says it’s “spiritually tainted” by the Marlinsstadium fiasco. This spiritual taint issue is a new and potentially knotty problem — after all, if the vicinity of every prior development scam is off limits, there’s going to be nowhere left to build in Florida.

Council hearing paints D.C. United stadium picture that’s as clear as mud

The D.C. council held its promised hearing on the D.C. United stadium plan yesterday, and I tuned in for a while before even watching the U.S. men’s soccer team seemed more exciting by comparison. Fortunately, DCist watched so we didn’t have to:

Just how far-reaching the city’s commitment in the deal is perhaps best demonstrated in a graph provided by John Ross, an official with the office of the Chief Financial Officer:

Yes, that’s, um, okay, I have no idea what any of that is supposed to indicate, but somebody put a lot of work into those icons, so give them props for that, okay?

So what else you got?

The Council heard testimony from dozens of witnesses. Some expressed fervent support for the agreement and took a seat at the witness table sporting the black and red colors of the team they’d come to support. Others expressed reservations about the deal, raising a handful of questions about its mechanics. And still others expressed their disdain for the deal as a whole.

If you’re starting to get the sense that this was just a bunch of people talking past each other while reciting things that everyone’s already heard before, that was pretty much my experience as well. D.C. administrator Allen Lew did indicate that the land swap that is at the heart of the United deal is a gimmick to get around the city’s borrowing cap; he sees that as a plus, while Ed Lazere of the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute complained that the Reeves Center is “being treated in this legislation like a Monopoly property, to be traded for cash,” with no public process or community input over how it will eventually be developed. Plus, noted Lazere, “the plan calls for creating a new Reeves Center east of the Anacostia River, yet it offers no details and no financing. With the city very close to its debt cap, it is not clear how or when a new municipal center will be completed.”

There were a few more hints of things to come — one neighborhood organization pushing for a Community Benefits Agreement, for example, something that in the past has often served more as a smokescreen for developers than an actual benefit to communities. But the most interesting question is where the councilmembers stand on the project, and most of them are still hedging their bets. Reading tea leaves, you have to wonder if the council may not just try to drag this out until Mayor Vincent Gray is out of office at the end of the year, then start over with a new mayor — something that Gray and United both desperately want to avoid, but if the council digs in its heels, there’s not much they can do about it.

Nothing says chillaxing like watching a D.C. council soccer stadium hearing

As of 9:38 am Eastern time, the “Brooklyn Wars” Kickstarter is fully funded! Huge thanks to everyone who chipped in — and if you want to get in on preordering (this will be your only chance to get rewards like the bonus zine), you still have until tomorrow at 5 pm to do so.

Meanwhile, this means I get to spend a couple of hours this morning watching the D.C. Council hearing on the proposed D.C. United stadium, and its accompanying $178 million or so in public subsidies. Right now, the manager of a soccer program funded by D.C. United is testifying. Let’s watch and see which side he comes down on!

Anyone who wants to play along, watch here and join me in discussing the proceedings below in comments.

Council hearing tomorrow on D.C. United’s $178m-plus stadium subsidy plan

So, there’s this World Cup thing, which involves soccer, and which lots of people in the U.S. are watching. There are also soccer teams in the U.S., one of which is D.C. United, which has a hearing coming up Thursday on its request for a bunch of public money to help build a new stadium. How do you report on this, if you’re the Washington Post?

Will that enthusiasm carry over to D.C. United as the team pushes for approval of a new stadium?

Because of course rooting for your nation’s team to win an international soccer match is something that could “carry over” to rooting for your city’s team to get a bunch of your tax dollars. Nobody could possibly love soccer but hate the way soccer stadiums are funded!

Anyway, back in the world of real journalism, the Washington City Paper offers a breakdown of the D.C. United deal, based on a handout from D.C. administrator Allen Law, that provides our clearest picture yet of who would be paying for what, though it’s still pretty convoluted. In brief:

      • The city will spend $84.9 million on buying land for the stadium, plus another $34.6 million in infrastructure, for a total of $119.5 million.
      • Of this, $48 million will come out of the city’s capital budget, while the rest will be raised by selling two existing city properties — one of which, the Reeves Center, the city is selling to Akridge (one of the current owners of part of the stadium site) for $55 million, though the city’s official assessment of the land’s value earlier this year was $129 million, while an independent appraiser hired by the city valued it at $69 million.

D.C. United would received 20 years of property tax breaks and 10 years of sales tax kickbacks, which as previously discussed here would be worth about $63.6 million to the team. The team will pay a $2 per ticket fee to the city starting ten years from now, which at roughly 300,000 tickets sold per year, discounted to present value, amounts to about $4.6 million that the city will be getting back.

Total cost to D.C. taxpayers, then: $178.5 million, plus whatever discount D.C. is giving to Akridge on the Reeves Center property. In other words, still pretty darned close to $200 million.

Tomorrow’s hearing is set for 9:30 am, just two and a half hours before the start time of the U.S. team’s must-tie match against Germany; the mayor’s office says a TV will be set up in a briefing room for fans who want to attend the meeting while still watching the game. There will likely be another hearing in September following the delivery of an independent cost-benefit analysis commissioned by the council, so don’t expect any decisions anytime soon.


TV report: El Paso won’t get MLS team without downtown stadium, also won’t get MLS team regardless

A report from KVIA-TV notes that if El Paso wants an MLS franchise, it will need to build a downtown stadium, given league commissioner Don Garber’s remarks last week about plans for an expansion team in Miam — wait, what? El Paso?

The City of El Paso had several Quality of Life Bond project meetings prior to putting projects on the ballot in November 2012 and several El Pasoans said they wanted a major league soccer stadium, estimated to cost between $100 million and $120 million. The soccer stadium project was not put on the ballot.

Okay, so “several” people in El Paso would like to get an MLS team, but there is no actual plan for a stadium. Also, El Paso is not going to get an MLS team. It’s not, right?

In March, Garber was asked about the possibily of expanding to several cities, including Austin and San Antonio.

“It’s premature for both markets. …. Expanding in Texas is something that is likely to happen,” Garber said. “Where that happens, when that happens is still to be seen.”

El Paso is not going to get an MLS team. But you know what they say: As goes Albuquerque, so goes El Paso.

Miami mayor tells Beckham on stadium site: “The slip is off the table”

Finally up to speed with David Beckham’s plans for an MLS stadium in a public park by a filled-in boat slip that would be turned into new parkland? Good, now forget all that, because Miami city officials just stuck a giant fork in it:

Mayor Tomás Regalado and City Manager Daniel Alfonso told Beckham’s group thanks but no thanks when lead negotiator John Alschuler offered Miami $2 million a year in rent of sorts to make a deal.

That was “generous,” according to Alfonso, but neither he nor the mayor walked into the meeting with Alschuler intending to bargain. “Given the uniqueness of this site, we agreed that this was just not the right place,” Alfonso said.

“The slip is off the table,” Regalado said.

Regalado, you may recall, was a prime opponent of the Miami Marlins stadium deal, even attempting to take back $100 million in garage subsidies once it became clear that the team’s owners were just pocketing the profits. (He didn’t get very far, but he attempted.) Beckham has had more support from Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, but with the city controlling the land in this case, Regalado has effective veto power.

That’s two proposed stadium sites rejected in a little over a month for Beckham and Alschuler, who said yesterday that the team — which doesn’t actually exist yet, mind you, and won’t until it has a stadium deal in place — is going to “pause” and “consider all alternatives and look forward to constructive engagement.” I’m pretty sure that’s PR-speak for “WTF do we do now?”, so we may be in for a short pause in Miami MLS news.

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Miami, Beckham $207m apart on value of stadium land

I’ve been wondering for a while now how much of a bargain Miami was going to have to give David Beckham’s MLS ownership group as part of a deal for a new waterfront stadium in a public park, and the answer is: Nobody can agree on it, so they’re shutting down talks for a while.

For months, David Beckham’s Major League Soccer venture has said it will pay some sort of annual rent — “fair,” “market” or “reasonable” — to build a stadium on prime public land.

Yet the number Beckham’s representatives have floated in early talks with the city of Miami is so low that the city manager has called for the two sides to “take a breather.”

That figure: $500,000 a year, according to the city.

Miami says it has not countered with a figure of its own, but it’s far higher than $500,000 — as high as $12 million to $14 million, City Manager Daniel Alfonso said Monday.

“We’re just too far apart,” he told the Miami Herald.

That’s pretty far apart, yeah. How far? In present value (5% discount rate), over the term of a 30-year lease, $500,000 a year is worth about $7.7 million total. $14 million a year would be worth $215.2 million. So Beckham and the city of Miami are only $207.5 million apart on how to split the costs of a new arena. Yeah, this could take a while.

Meanwhile, the University of Miami’s football team has said it’s not interested in moving to an MLS stadium at the new boat-slip site, both because it has 18 years left on its lease at Sun Life Stadium, and because the new soccer site likely isn’t big enough to fit a football stadium anyway. Anyone for Plan C?

D.C. councilmember opposes United stadium plan without streetcar funding

One of the 13 members of the D.C. Council has come out against Mayor Vincent Gray’s D.C. United stadium plan unless the council restores money to build a streetcar line to the site. No, really:

In an ominous change of heart for Gray and the soccer team, [Councilmember Tommy] Wells tells LL that he’s leaning towards voting against the stadium now that Council Chairman Phil Mendelson‘s budget cuts streetcar funding. With Mendelson’s detractors saying that the streetcar line to Buzzard Point and the stadium is endangered by the switch, Wells says he can’t back the stadium if it lacks new public transit, even though it would be close to Metro’s Green Line.

“Now that the Council has gutted that, I can’t in good conscience support a 20,000-seat venue with no new transit infrastructure,” Wells says.

I haven’t been seen any head counts of likely votes on the United stadium plan, but given that Gray was already facing an uphill battle with the council, this can’t be a good sign for the mayor.

D.C. United deal now includes selling city land for less than half assessed value

The Washington Post has thrown at least a thimbleful of cold water on D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray’s D.C. United stadium plan, noting that “with about seven months remaining in a lame-duck term, persuading a majority of the council to support the plan could take every ounce of political capital that Gray (D) still has. It may not be enough.” Not only is the council wary about the $200 million in cash and tax breaks required, but there’s a mayoral election coming up, and both candidates have expressed opposition to the stadium deal.

The Post also notes a recent twist in the stadium funding scheme, which is that, contrary to the original plan to sell the city-owned Reeves Center government office building for $100 million and use the proceeds for the stadium, Gray has now agreed to trade the Reeves Center to the owner of part of the proposed soccer stadium site for $34.5 million plus $21.1 million in stadium land — less than half its assessed value, and less than a third of what a 2011 city report found the Reeves site to be worth. I can’t for the life of me figure out whether this means D.C. will now have to come up with additional cash or land beyond its original $150 million investment — the land swaps are so convoluted that apparently even the Post has thrown up its hands at trying to describe them — but I’ll report back here if the fog ever clears.

Beckham’s plan would build MLS stadium on Miami park, build park on water

David Beckham’s stadium czar John Alschuler has released a few more details about the group’s planned soccer stadium on a filled-in boat slip, including some really quickly rendered renderings that don’t show much. What we do know:

  • The stadium wouldn’t actually be built on the boat slip, so much as on land currently being developed as a public park, with the public park then being instead built on the boat slip behind the stadium.
  • There’s no parking. Reports the Miami Herald: “Beckham’s group says there are enough spaces in lots and garages around downtown if no soccer matches coincide with Miami Heat basketball games. Heat executives have said they are concerned about some of those parking spots disappearing as new developments break ground.”
  • The stadium would get a full exemption from property taxes (value not given), while the county would charge “some sort of rent” (per Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, per the Herald).
  • Beckham’s group wouldn’t reimburse the city for its $15 million in recent improvements to the boat slip, with Alschuler explaining, “If I own a Chevy and somebody says, ‘I’m going to replace it with a Cadillac,’ I should consider that a pretty fair transaction.”

There’s still a lot we don’t know, obviously, which helps explain why the Herald describes Miami city commissioners who heard Alschuler’s pitch as sounding “open to the project, if still hesitant given the lack of specifics.” The whole thing is tentatively headed for a November public ballot, which really isn’t a lot of time to figure out what the plan is or how it’s being paid for, but that hasn’t stopped anyone before.

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