Clubs

The Miami City Commission approved a 99-year lease to the owners of Inter Miami CF for a redevelopment project that includes a new stadium for the Major League Soccer side.

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After over six hours of occasionally heated discussion, public comment and revising of terms, the commission approved the lease by a 4-1 vote, the minimum required for passage. Commissioner Manolo Reyes, a longtime opponent of the project, was the lone dissenting vote.

A 2018 referendum that passed with roughly 60 percent of the vote authorized the commission to negotiate the lease with Inter Miami’s owners. The site currently houses Melreese golf course, which sits near Miami International Airport.

The vote culminates an eight-year odyssey to build a stadium in Miami, one that began with David Beckham exercising his discounted option to acquire a team, and standing alongside MLS commissioner Don Garber. The journey involved some stops and starts that included several proposed stadium sites as well as multiple changes to the team’s ownership group. The delay in finding a stadium site in Miami resulted in the team playing in a temporary venue, DRV PNK Stadium, in Ft. Lauderdale.

Now Inter Miami can move forward, and not just on the stadium front. The project — dubbed Miami Freedom Park — will convert 73 acres of the 131-acre Melreese site into a 25,000-seat stadium, at least 750 hotel rooms, a 31.4-acre retail area, an office park with hundreds of thousands of square feet of space and a 58-acre public park.

Proponents, including Inter Miami managing owner Jorge Mas, stated that among the project’s benefits are that it wouldn’t cost taxpayers any money, would generate at least $2.67 billion in rent payments to the city over the life of the lease, and create 15,000 jobs. Critics countered that the project should have gone to public bidding, and that the project is renting the land for less than market value.

But after a slew of addendums added to the lease terms, including how $20m in funds for parks would be split up, the lease proposal passed.

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