Miami voters will have their say in November on David Beckham’s latest plan for a Major League Soccer stadium development in the city, after a vote by city commissioners on Wednesday.
The Miami City Commission voted 3-2 to place a referendum on the November 6 ballot that would open the door for the complex on city-owned land that is now occupied by a municipal golf course.
The proposal by retired England star Beckham and his business partners includes a 25,000-seat stadium for an expansion MLS club, along with 23 acres of youth football pitches with artificial turf, a 750-room hotel, restaurant, retail and office space plus a 58-acre public park. The commission delayed a vote last week after a presentation by the investment group was followed by hours of public comment both for and against the plan.
Those opposed included a group from the First Tee Miami youth golf program based at the Melreese Country Club site. Wednesday’s move by the commission will let voters decide whether to allow the city to change its laws and waive competitive bidding and authorize the commission to negotiate a 99-year lease of the site.
If voters approve, a lease agreement must gain approval of four of the five commissioners. On Wednesday, Beckham business partner Jorge Mas went through a list of new provisions added since last week’s presentation. That includes an agreement that no city funding would be used for toxic soil cleanup, a cost that is estimated at $35 million.
The group also offered assurances that First Tee Miami could stay put, with a driving range on the site and access to a nearby 18-hole golf course.
The Melreese site is just the latest that Beckham has seriously pursued. More than a year ago the England icon had proposed a stadium in a downtown Miami neighborhood in a project that drew criticism over lack of parking and potential increased traffic chaos and sparked fears that low-income residents would be displaced.