Beckham shows how to squeeze a soccer stadium into Overtown site by sucking in tummy

David Beckham’s MLS ownership group issued a rendering of its proposed stadium in the Overtown section of Miami this week — sort of. See if you can spot the qualifier:

beckham-stadium-renderingOkay, that wasn’t hard, as it’s right there in blue type: The stadium probably won’t look anything like this undulating-mesh weirdness, but it’ll be kind of that size, and look! There’s even room for sidewalks, kind of!

I’m not entirely convinced, frankly, given that from the looks of this one rendering, the back of the seating bowl is going to have to be cantilevered out practically over some lanes of traffic in order to make it work. But hey, as I’ve noted before, stadiums squeezed into tight spaces can make for fun, compact designs, so if Beckham’s architects think they can make this work, more power to them.

Meanwhile, on the funding front, it looks like Beckham really will pay all construction costs and applicable property taxes, which is a big improvement over his previous stadium plans, and a nice mini-trend after Orlando City S.C. recently made a similar decision around its new soccer stadium. (It’s still not entirely clear if Beckham will pay full price for the one-third of the site that’s owned by the county, but that’s a lesser issue than paying property taxes.) Is this a sign that cities really can get team owners to pay for their own buildings by pushing back on subsidy demands? Or just that MLS is weird? Stay tuned for more data points.

Beckham’s latest Miami stadium site lacks parking, is really small

Well, that didn’t take long for David Beckham’s latest proposed soccer stadium site to turn up with some problems: Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado notes that unlike the proposed Marlins Park site, in Overtown there would be nowhere for fans to park.

Neisen Kasdin, a Beckham lawyer, replied, “There are ample parking resources in the area — 6,800 spaces within a half-mile proximity, to be exact.” To which Regalado shot back of the notion of fans walking from their cars or mass transit, “I don’t think there is that kind of culture — even the fans that used to walk in their country, they’ve gotten used to their cars.”

A half-mile walk doesn’t seem all that far to me, but then, 6,800 spaces really isn’t enough for a 25,000-seat stadium. A bigger problem is that the proposed site is only 4.2 acres (CORRECTION: actually 9 acres, since Beckham would acquire the block to the south as well); by comparison, Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. sits on more than 12 acres:

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 9.20.05 AMScreen Shot 2015-12-15 at 9.20.35 AM That might work if you move some streets, maybe? I’m a fan of stadiums squeezed into tight spaces, but still, this looks an awfully difficult fit, even without getting into the parking issues. Which is Beckham’s problem if he goes ahead with it, but still.

MLS to Beckham: Build your damn Miami stadium wherever you want, just get it over with, OK?

MLS owners met this weekend and endorsed David Beckham’s hastily assembled Miami stadium plan for Overtown, on the grounds that “at this point, we’d be happy if the team played on an oversized airboat in the Everglades if it would put an end to this ordeal, hell, the entire state’s going to be underwater soon enough as it is.”

Okay, they didn’t quite say that, but read between the lines, people:

“We are very supportive of Miami Beckham United’s plans to locate their stadium in the City of Miami’s Overtown neighborhood,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said. “Their vision for a world-class venue within the urban core that is accessible by mass transportation is impressive, and we believe it will be an important part of the continued revitalization of the area.

“We look forward to working with David and his partners to finalize plans to bring Major League Soccer to Miami.”

If initial reports can be believed, Beckham will actually pay the full cost of the stadium, including land and applicable taxes, which would make a nice little mini-trend, following similar decisions in Orlando and Sacramento. Presumably the lure of being able to get into the owner’s club for the bargain-basement price of $25 million (plus the cost of the stadium, of course) was just too great for Beckham to pass up — though come to think of it, wasn’t Beckham’s discounted-franchise-fee deal supposed to expire a month ago? You’d actually kind of think that MLS owners would realize that if they rejected Beckham’s stadium plan they could re-sell a Miami franchise for a heck of a lot more — but I guess they figure having the cachet of Beckham’s presence is worth more than another $75 million in cash. Not realizing when Beckham needs MLS more than it needs him is what got them in this mess in the first place, after all.

Hey, did MLS just shake down David Beckham for stadium money by threatening him with Sacramento?

Remember back when David Beckham was insisting that he needed to have a waterfront site for his MLS team’s stadium, or the whole Miami franchise deal wasn’t going to work? That’s before he switched gears to go for a stadium next to Marlins Park — and now that that plan is apparently dead, it didn’t even take Beckham a week to come up with still another site:

“Miami Beckham United has secured a stadium development site at 650 Northwest 8th Street in the City of Miami’s historic Overtown neighborhood,” the team said in a statement. “We intend to create an assemblage of private and County-controlled land totaling approximately 9 acres in Miami’s urban core, within walking distance of multiple public transit options and the up-and-coming Miami River District. The private properties, which comprise the majority of the land, are under contract and we intend to purchase the County land at fair market value pending approval of our site by the MLS Board of Governors.”

The press statement goes on to say that the stadium construction will be privately funded, and the Miami Herald cited sources saying that Beckham won’t even ask for property-tax breaks on the site.

All of which is a press release, of course, and one issued on the traditional ask-us-no-questions day of Friday, so best take it with at least one grain of salt. But the day has another significance as well: The MLS Board of Governors is meeting tomorrow to discuss expansion plans, and with commissioner Don Garber yesterday having left the door open to giving Sacramento a franchise ahead of Miami if its stadium plans were ready first, Beckham apparently was frantic enough to pull together any stadium plan he could, stat.

This would be a weird dynamic, needless to say — a league effectively threatening prospective owners into upping their own contributions by playing them off against each other — but then, MLS is a weird league. It’s not really popular enough to shake down cities for huge subsidies (with a few exceptions), and its business model of late has appeared to be more about making money by luring in new owners hopeful that it’s going to be the next big thing, and then getting them to ante up as much money as possible for expansion franchises. So a bidding war among would-be owners rather than would-be cities actually kind of makes sense, even if it’s not the typical sports M.O.

Anyway, Beckham’s getting this franchise for a bargain-basement $25 million thanks to a clause in the contract he signed when agreed to play in the U.S., so he has plenty of money to spend on a stadium. Not that having plenty of money usually stops anyone else from trying to demand subsidies, but like I said, MLS is weird.

Beckham reportedly throws in towel on soccer stadium alongside Marlins Park

Happy Monday back from the long holiday weekend, which is to say not happy at all. But hope it’s at least happier than the one had by David Beckham, who according to Miami’s NBC 6 has now abandoned plans to build a soccer stadium next to the Marlins stadium:

Miami City Commissioner Francis Suarez confirmed to NBC 6 that the Beckham stadium deal has been taken off the city commission agenda for Tuesday.

The proposed plan would need to be on Tuesday’s agenda in order to make the December 10th deadline to get on the March ballot.

Sources close to the deal tell NBC 6 that Beckham is giving up on the process to get approval to build in the City of Miami, but that does not mean his group will not seek to build elsewhere in South Florida.

If true, this is not completely surprising, given that Beckham’s stadium point man Tim Leiweke previously warned that private landowners holding out for sky-high prices could scuttle the deal, and before that Beckham gave up on his previous preferred site when he couldn’t arrive at an agreement on how much to pay for it. Still, it would be big news, if true.

All those qualifications are necessary, of course, because whenever you have leaked news like this, there’s always the chance that it’s meant as leverage to try to extract a better price from the people across the table. But for now it looks like Miami’s prospective MLS franchise is going back to the drawing board, so look out, Broward County!

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.

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.


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.

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.