Beckham seeks to hook up with Bucks owner for Miami stadium cash

Now that David Beckham’s proposed Miami MLS team finally has a site where a stadium can fit, sort of, the negotiations have entered a weird phase, with Beckham shopping around for somebody with the cash to actually build the thing. Or lend to him to build the thing. Or give to him to build the thing in exchange for a share of the team, or the stadium revenues, or something. David Beckham seeking rich partner for stadium play, is what I’m saying here.

Back in February, there was a rumor that Beckham was looking to sell a chunk of the team to Qatar Sports Investments, owners of the French soccer giants Paris Saint Germain, but those talks apparently went nowhere. Now, the Miami Herald (citing unnamed “sources familiar with the talks”) says Beckham has approached Wesley Edens, co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks and co-chair of real estate giant the Fortress Investment Group, about being an “investor” in the stadium project, whatever exactly that means. The easiest way would still be for Beckham to just sell Edens a share of the team, though there are plenty of other options for structuring a deal where Beckham gets cash now to build and Edens gets revenue down the line.

Regardless of how this all works out, the Miami stadium is still looking like it’s mostly going to be a deal indirectly subsidized by MLS — in that the league gave Beckham an 80% off coupon for one expansion franchise as part of his contract to play in the league, and now Beckham needs to do whatever it takes to cash it in. That’s all well and good, if a bit odd, but it’s interesting to see that even with an $80 million head start, Beckham is having to shop around to find investors interested in being a part of his project. Making money by starting sports teams and building stadiums for them with your own money is hard, which is no doubt one reason why so many rich people looking to own sports teams try to skip the “with your own money” part. (The other reason being that skipping the “with your own money” part is always a nice way to make even more money, even if you could turn a profit doing it yourself. Really, there’s no downside to having other people spend money on you, except for having to live with yourself in the morning.)

Miami MLS stadium deal now held up while Beckham thinks about local hiring goal

Whuh-oh, the Miami Herald is reporting that David Beckham’s proposed Miami soccer stadium has “hit a snag”:

Already months behind schedule in assembling a nine-acre site in Overtown for a 25,000-seat Major League Soccer stadium, Beckham and his partners have yet to sign off on a string of hiring goals, employee benefits and local-business perks that Miami-Dade is demanding as part of the sale…

Among the benefits sought by Miami-Dade from the Beckham group: job training for local residents; free transit passes for stadium employees; a goal of 65 percent of construction jobs going to local residents; and an agreement that Beckham’s group won’t disqualify applicants or subcontractors “based solely on a prior incarceration.”

Those are the sorts of terms that are technically referred to as “piddly,” and indeed, a source on Beckham’s side told the Herald that they just need to look over the terms more closely. Still, it’s been a while — long enough that a county attorney wrote an email to Beckham’s lawyer two weeks ago saying, “It’s been awhile” — so you have to wonder why they’re taking so long instead of sitting down to do some quality haggling. It’s still extremely likely that this stadium will happen as planned, but it’s also extremely likely that it won’t happen without at least a bit more drama, even if it’s only local doctors and business leaders arguing about whether Miamians are willing to walk for ten minutes to get to the game.

Beckham buys six of nine acres for new stadium, now just needs stadium that’ll fit on nine acres

David Beckham’s Miami MLS ownership group has purchased six acres of private land needed for its proposed soccer stadium, for an undisclosed price. He still needs to buy three acres of county-owned land as well; Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez is hoping to use a state economic-development law to get around allowing public bids on the property, which would require Beckham’s group to pay a “market-rate” price, which is estimated to be around $9 million.

You can quibble over the exact price, but none of this should be too controversial — at least Beckham is paying something close to market price, and construction costs and property taxes, too. The biggest question, really, is how to squeeze a 25,000-seat soccer stadium into a nine-acre plot of land: The latest renderings still show a stadium plopped down on top of parked cars, so no way to tell from those. I’m actually tentatively excited to see what Beckham & Co. come up with, as site constraints often make for the most interesting stadiums, but also curious to see how they make this mesh with the demands of a modern-day concession-filled mallpark. Stay tuned to this channel for further breaking news.

Miami mayor: Beckham’s MLS stadium would force fans to walk upright, that’s crazy talk

Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado is still complaining that David Beckham’s proposed MLS stadium wouldn’t have enough parking, and, you know what, let me leave it to my former corporate colleagues at Miami New Times to explain the crazy:

“I really don’t know how you could possibly walk from Culmer,” Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado tells [the Miami Herald’s Barry] Jackson. “I think it’s too far.”

The Culmer Metrorail Station is three blocks from Beckham’s proposed stadium site. As the Next Miami points out, that’s a five-minute walk.

As the New Times notes, “Granted, the plans still deserve scrutiny, but perhaps the tactic to take shouldn’t be that Miamians can’t walk five minutes. It’s questioning whether enough would even take the Metrorail to begin with.” Though encouraging people to take mass transit by making driving more onerous isn’t the worst idea, really. Maybe Regalado is just mad that his daughter’s school board has been cut out of the deal? Your guess is as good as mine.

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.