Miami City Commission Will Decide On Resolution To Retain Legal Consultant For Lease Negotiations With Miami Freedom Park, LLC.

Updated: May 23, 2019 –

The Miami City Commissioners passed RE14, the resolution to appoint legal consultants to assist in the Miami Freedom Park lease negotiations, by a 4-1 vote. The lone ‘no’ was Manolo Reyes, who once again was argumentative and openly dismissive and hostile to the plan. Furthermore, the resolution was amended such that the city attorney will have the final say on which of 3 law firm(s) to work with. (Original article follows)

With Public Mandate secured in last November’s election, Miami Freedom Park moves on to the negotiation stage.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019 – Kenneth Russo

The Miami City Commission will decide on a resolution at the City Commissioners Meeting scheduled for this Thursday, May 23, 2019.

The resolution reads as follows:

A RESOLUTION OF THE MIAMI CITY COMMISSION AUTHORIZING THE RETENTION OF _______________________ AS LEGAL CONSULTANTS TO WORK IN CONSULTATION WITH THE CITY ATTORNEY AND TO PROVIDE SUBJECT MATTER EXPERTISE ON NEGOTIATIONS BETWEEN THE CITY OF MIAMI AND FREEDOM PARK LLC; FURTHER AUTHORIZING THE EXPENDITURE OF FUNDS FOR SAID PURPOSE; ALLOCATING FUNDS FROM THE NON-DEPARTMENTAL LEGAL SERVICES ACCOUNT NO. 00001.980000.531010.0000.00000.

The full May 23, 2019 meeting agenda is available by following this link: City Commission Agenda – May 23, 2019

Resolution Language

With approval by over 60% of Voters on November 6, 2018, the referendum for an amendment to Section 29-B of the Charter of the City of Miami allows the City Commission to negotiate and execute a 99 year lease with Miami Freedom Park, LLC. Approximately 73 acres of the land will be used for the Soccer Stadium project (includes 1,000,000 square feet of office, retail, entertainment and commercial uses, 750 hotel rooms, public soccer fields) and approximately 58 acres for Miami Freedom Park, a new public park. The stadium will become the permanent home of Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami. It is expected to have around 25,000 seats and be ready for the 2022 MLS season.

Two Legal Consultants Under Consideration by City

One of the firms being considered is actually a partnership of two law firms with relevant experience: Fowler, White, Burnett and O’Melveny & Myers, LLP.

Fowler is headquartered in Miami and has additional offices in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. In a document filed in support of their appointment, Fowler lists the following leasing-related services it can provide to clients:

  • Contract negotiations
  • Purchase options
  • Space construction
  • Rent escalation clauses
  • Leasing brokerage agreements and issues
  • Ground-lease transactions both for new developments and existing buildings
  • Major sale and leasebacks transactions
  • Creative tenant-equity leases
  • Reciprocal lease agreements
  • Financing arrangements
  • Property management agreements

O’Melveny’s legal expertise in stadium development issues is well known in the legal field. Alliance partner Irwin Raij, Esq. a partner at O’Melveny, has extensive sporting and stadium experience, which includes advising Phoenix Rising FC in connection with its MLS Expansion bid and related new stadium construction. Additionally, Attorney Raij has advised Palace Entertainment in connection with its bid for an MLS expansion team in Detroit. Charles Baker, Esq. is Co-Chair of O’Melveny’s Sports Industry Practice Group and has been involved in a number of purchases and sales of sports franchises as well as private equity, and venture capital transactions, with a core focus in the sports, media and consumer sectors.

O’Melveny has also represented the developer of Dignity Health Sports Park (f/k/a Stubhub Center) the home stadium of the Los Angeles Galaxy, and served as counsel to Major League Baseball in the negotiations for Marlins Park. The firm also has naming rights experience and has worked on public-private partnerships.

The other law firm being considered by the City is Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, LLP (“BCP”). This firm boasts 1,400 lawyers in 31 offices across North America (including Miami), Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The firm’s response to the City states that: “We are among the most active law firms in the world in handling significant stadium developments and financing , as well as naming rights and sponsorship transactions. We have the expertise to handle all aspects of these projects, having served as lead counsel in connection with a number of high profile event venue projects across the United States and abroad, including the Staples Center, The 02 Arena (London), The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, T-Mobile Arena (Las Vegas NHL), the Dignity Health Sports Park (f/k/a StubHub Center) and many others.”

With regard to the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, BCP served as lead counsel to the developer, handling all aspects of the project, from real estate to naming and sponsorship rights. The firm represented the City of Jacksonville in its negotiations with the NFL Jaguars on a lease renegotiation, and has advised on two MLS stadiums: Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ and Toyota Park in Bridgeview, IL.

What effect does this have on the Miami Freedom Park project?

I believe this is a positive development. The Commissioners know that the voters have approved this so the idea of Miami Freedom Park and Soccer Village has a public mandate. Thwarting the will of the people after a public vote is clearly not in their best interests. They obviously also have a responsibility to obtain the best result for the City. Having legal counsel with experience in these types of projects should produce a lease that is fair to both the city and Miami Freedom Park, LLC. The balancing act will be to not make the deal so one-sided in the City’s favour that an agreed upon lease becomes economically impractical from Miami Freedom Park’s perspective. But firms like this are highly skilled and their goal will be to succeed, i.e. produce a lease that is mutually acceptable.

It is entirely conceivable that the final lease produced by this process receives unanimous support of the City Commission.

Miami Freedom Park Stadium (photo credit: Inter Miami CF)

Miami Freedom Park and Soccer Village 2018 Promotional Video, courtesy of Inter Miami CF:

Continue reading Miami City Commission Will Decide On Resolution To Retain Legal Consultant For Lease Negotiations With Miami Freedom Park, LLC.

Dismissal With Prejudice of Lawsuit against City and Inter Miami CF

Miami, Fla. (Wednesday 8 May 2019)

In a footnote to the story covered on Russo Law and Soccer, the action by FXE Futbol against the City of Fort Lauderdale and Inter Miami CF is officially finished.

Court records obtained (shown above) show that FXE Futbol, through its attorney, filed a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal in the matter.

The dismissal is “with prejudice,” meaning that the case cannot be refiled.

A link to the prior story is here:

Inter Miami is now moving ahead with its plans for its new Lockhart Stadium, Training Centre and Academy. An official ceremony was held today at the site in Fort Lauderdale.

Inter Miami CF Hold Ceremony To Mark Start of Revitalization of Lockhart – This is What This Project Is About.

“Demolition Day” paid tribute to the past while remaining squarely focused on the future of “fútbol” in South Florida.

Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Wednesday May 8, 2019)

A South Florida morning at its finest – bright, sunny skies, light breezes and warm temperatures – provided the perfect backdrop to an official ceremony by Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami to mark the beginning of the transformation of Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale. The site will be the permanent home of the Inter Academy, the club Training Centre, and home of its USL affiliated club. A new 18,000 seat stadium will be built as part of a park with a soccer focus. In addition to being home for the yet-to-be-named USL club, the stadium will be the temporary home for Inter Miami CF during its first two seasons in Major League Soccer, before moving to Miami Freedom Park once it is ready.

Television personality and fútbol commentator Fernando Fiore was the host of the ceremony and was his vibrant and humorous self. He recalled his many visits to Lockhart Stadium over the years, and called it a “pleasure” to return. He pulled out his ticket to the inaugural Miami Fusion game from Sunday, March 15, 1998 – Section 3, Row 15, Seat 98. “Please Jorge, make sure I have a seat by that one when we open the new one,” he joked.

Supporters of the new club were also very visible, with all three of the official Inter Miami Supporters Groups on hand: Vice City 1896, Southern Legion and The Siege. They sang, waved flags, banged drums, and set off the ubiquitous Inter Miami pink smoke into the air, announcing their presence and laying claim to the site.

Inter Miami CF Managing Owner Jorge Mas was one of the speakers at the event. Charismatic as always, he wanted to stress what the project stands for:

“This is about the youth and the younger generation. “This is for the young men and women who will be able to achieve their dreams here, who will be able to do something great for our community and fill their hearts with the joy of sport, with the joy of this beautiful game, with the joy of bringing families together. That’s what this project is all about.”

I had the chance to ask Ray Hudson, a legend of soccer here, who played for the original Ft. Lauderdale Strikers and later managed the MLS Miami Fusion, as well as enjoying success as an announcer for BeIn Sports. He told me he’s on board and called it a sign of progress. He also added to TV reporters:

“It’s all going to be torn down and that’s a good thing, it’s the progress that we’ve been looking for and this is in responsible hands.”

Ray Hudson

Among politicians on hand was Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis. During his speech addressing the attendees, he said: “This is truly a historic day for the city of Fort Lauderdale as we come together to kick off a visionary project that will completely transform the 64-acre site and have a lasting impact on our community for generations to come,” Trantalis added: “Our partnership with Miami Beckham United and Inter Miami CF represents a new and exciting chapter in the history of this storied property. One that will bring $60 million in upgrades and improvements including a new professional soccer stadium, training facilities, team offices, a youth soccer academy, multi-purpose community athletic fields, and a major public park.”

With speeches finished, it was time to get wrecking, and the old Lockhart Stadium ticket booth was the first part to come down.

Looking Ahead: Images of the new Lockhart Park (courtesy of Inter Miami CF and Manika)

Season Ticket Deposit Campaign Begins

Yesterday also saw the opening day for fans to begin placing deposits on season tickets for the inaugural season in 2020. Links are available on Inter Miami social media channels, or online at www.InterMiamiCF.com. Fans can also affiliate with a supporters group, thereby gaining the ability to receive a special rate on season ticket deposits in the supporters section of the stadium as well as other benefits. More details are available on each of the social media accounts of the supporters groups.

Read more HERE

A Big “W” in Court: Judge denies attempt to stop Inter Miami CF from continuing plans to demolish Lockhart Stadium

Miami, Fla. (Friday, May 3, 2019) – Kenneth Russo

Ordered and Adjudged that Plaintiff’s Emergency Motion for Temporary Injunction, filed April 23, 2019, is hereby DENIED. Additionally, Plaintiff’s unverified request for Emergency Relief, filed April 30, 2019, is hereby DENIED. Furthermore, this Court GRANTS Defendants’ Request for reasonable attorney’s fees in defending against Plaintiff’s unverified Request For Emergency Relief, pursuant to section 57.105, Florida Statutes. See Also Admin. Order 2014-32-Civ(c)(6) (Sep. 30, 2014). DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers at Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, on this May 3rd, 2019. s/ Raag Singhal, Circuit Court Judge


And with those words, the merit-less attempt to stop Inter Miami CF from continuing its plans to demolish the abandoned and dilapidated Lockhart Stadium, in order to make way for a new stadium, training centre and academy, was disposed of, leaving club officials, supporters and fans with a much-needed victory.

David J. Winker, acting as counsel for FXE Futbol, went to court to put a halt to the work. He left court owing what will surely be a hefty legal bill to the attorneys who defended the City of Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beckham United, LLC. against an emergency motion seeking an injunction that the Court felt was thoroughly without merit.

The primary argument raised by Miami Beckham United, LLC, a co-defendant in this case, was that the City of Fort Lauderdale’s decision to accept the unsolicited bid it made was one that is not properly reviewable by the Court: “The Plaintiff cites to zero authority, and Inter Miami is aware of none, that supports the proposition that a third party, without a legally recognized contractual or property interest in specific municipally owned property, such as Plaintiff, may enjoin that municipality from demolishing its own property.” (Defendant Miami Beckham United, LLC’s Response in Opposition To Plaintiff’s Emergency Motion For Temporary Injunction, pg. 5,6)

It was also argued that the Plaintiff lacks standing (a legal term meaning that it has no ability to bring forth a claim) and failed to meet any of the four requirements needed to be shown for injunctive relief to be granted.

The team’s counsel John K. Shubin, made this statement after today’s decision:

“Today’s decision confirms that the process that is bringing world-class soccer to the City of Fort Lauderdale was both lawful and fair. Our client will continue to move forward in good faith with the hard work that needs to be accomplished to convert this process into a reality. We also hope that we have seen the end of this meritless litigation.”

John K. Shubin, Esq.

With a little over 300 days until the start of the 2020 season, at least the question of where Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami will be playing its home games took a big step forward today.

A major component of Inter Miami CF’s plans for the Lockhart site, in addition to a 19,000 seat stadium that will serve as the interim home for the club as well as the permanent home to its affiliated USL League One (3rd Division), is a youth soccer academy — a competitive, travelling soccer team of the region’s best young players. The academy will be fully funded by the club, and players selected will be able to attend for free. The first members of the Inter Miami CF Academy are expected to be announced sometime soon. More than 6,000 South Florida youth players were scouted and over 500 were invited to attend formal tryouts that have been held at the Central Broward Regional Park and Stadium.

For the public, four “pitches” — a regulation size soccer field that can be used for other sports — will be created, as well as a dog park, a running trail, playground and public park. The estimated investment that Inter Miami is making, including new, $30 million stadium: up to $60 million.

Inter Miami’s permanent home will be located in Miami at Miami Freedom Park, the site now occupied by the Melreese Golf Club. The team is currently working out the details of a lease which will be presented to the City of Miami.

UPDATE: Lockhart Stadium’s demolition is set to officially begin this Wednesday, May 8, 2019. All supporter groups and fans are welcome to arrive between 8:15-8:45 A.M. EDT.

© 2019 Russo Law & Soccer

Evoking An Image of Wings In Flight, This Will Be Miami’s Theatre Of Dreams

Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami releases stunning new preview of home stadium at Miami Freedom Park.

Miami, Fla. (Tuesday, April 9, 2019) – by Kenneth Russo

Miami has always been about the dream. Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain was no stranger to Miami. He liked Miami because of its promise and opportunity:

“We really look at Miami as the original dream, and try to go back to that notion — the promise of if you’re good and you do right in your life and you work hard, we all end up in Miami.”

Anthony Bourdain, 2015.

Inter Miami CF’s dream was shared in a little more detail today:

The club today released new renderings of its intended permanent home at Miami Freedom Park. Beginning with an image of a great white heron in its native South Florida habitat, the video transforms as the bird takes flight, transforming itself into a sweeping, majestic, laser-lighted canopy of the stadium. One glance makes it clear that this stadium will check all the boxes: the latest (presumably 5G) technology, beautiful sight lines, a massive wall of a supporters’ section, luxury suites, clubs and entertainment options before and after a match.

Prior to the vote in November, in which a majority of Miami city voters approved allowing the city to negotiate a lease of the land needed for building both the stadium and adjacent Miami Freedom Park, the words spoken were “this won’t just be a soccer stadium.” And they were right. This is a transformation, a vision, and the best is yet to come.

They call it “the beautiful game,” and in Miami the game won’t be the only thing they call beautiful. It takes a lot to get this town’s attention, and in Miami, sizzle and sexy are what sells. The new permanent home stadium for Inter Miami CF promises to deliver these attributes to an international fan base that is knowledgeable and passionate for fútbol.

A pure masterpiece, this stadium is the pièce de résistance befitting of MLS’ first global club.

Images courtesy of Inter Miami CF

© 2019 Russo Law & Soccer

Could This Be A Third Option For Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami?

Miami, FL (Wednesday February 20, 2019) – Kenneth Russo –

Another potential site for the temporary home of Inter Miami CF has emerged, according to information discovered via social media feeds. On February 12, 2019, officials from the MLS club, Dennis Sprenkle, the Vice-President of HR and Administration, and Jurgen Mainka, Director of Commercial, met with the President of Saint Thomas University, David A. Armstrong, J.D. at the team’s Miami offices.

Inter Miami CF is in need of securing a home for its inaugural season beginning in March 2020, and in all likelihood for the 2021 season as well. The Club had been in talks with MLB’s Miami Marlins to play at Marlins Park, but the two sides could not reach an accord. They also reportedly have talked to RSE Ventures about leasing Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, but again without an agreement being struck.

The third choice for a temporary home has usually focused on Riccardo Silva Stadium at Florida International University. Located in the western part of Miami-Dade County, that site also has its complications, the primary obstacle being that Inter Miami CF would be the third tenant, and would be required to adjust its home dates to fit in with FIU Football and the Miami Football Club, a non division team owned in part by Silva which played in the now defunct NASL. Also, the location is less-than-ideal, as it is far from the urban core of Miami.

At the meeting with St. Thomas on February 12, the two sides talked about potential partnerships with the University and with the St. Thomas University Sports Administration Program.

Founded in 1961 as Biscayne College by the order of Augustinian Friars, the private Catholic institution achieved university status in 1984, operates one of only two accredited Catholic law schools south of Washington, D.C., and offers multiple degrees at the bachelor and master level. It has an undergraduate enrollment of 4,280, and its current campus size is 140 acres, according to the latest U.S. News & World Report survey of colleges and universities. The university listed 28 acres of land for sale in August 2018. The sale of the land, located along the Palmetto Expressway, would be used to strengthen its endowment and finance strategic projects, according to President David A. Armstrong.

https://www.latimes.com/fl-bz-st-thomas-university-selling-28-acres-20180823-story.html

St. Thomas University has recently added men’s American Football to its university sports program, with games beginning in Fall 2019, but has yet to announce where it will play those home games. Presently, there is no football stadium on the campus. It is also entirely possible that St. Thomas is interested in using the eventual Miami Freedom Park Stadium. No one has ever mentioned Inter Miami CF sharing its home with other teams, but it wouldn’t be unprecedented either. Within MLS, Toronto FC has allowed the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts to use BMO Field; Los Angeles Galaxy’s Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson California is the temporary home of the relocated NFL Chargers; FC Dallas’ home is used for American Football.

Geographically, St. Thomas’ location in northern Miami-Dade County make it an ideal site for Inter Miami CF, as the location is easily accessible by car from both Miami and Broward County. The university also has experience in hosting a soccer club, having been the home grounds of the aforementioned Miami FC while the club dropped down to play in the NPSL. St. Thomas controls a large amount of land and has the room necessary to construct a football stadium for its newly launched university team.

If there is anything to the possibility of constructing a temporary home at St. Thomas, plans would have to occur quickly. The time factor gives rise to another potential: the use of a modular stadium. This has been a popular solution for USL teams. For example, Phoenix Rising FC have constructed a modular stadium for its home games, while building the club’s fanbase and developing plans for a permanent stadium as part of its very strong expansion bid to Major League Soccer. Phoenix’ modular stadium has 6,000 seats, and building one for Inter Miami CF would require at least 15,000 to be a viable option and to meet MLS standards.

Read more about InProduction modular stadiums:

MLS 2019 Primary Transfer Window – Feb 13 – May 7

Miami, FL (Friday, February 15, 2019) by Kenneth Russo –

On Wednesday of this week, the 2019 MLS Primary Transfer Window, allowing clubs to now officially register their offseason additions. The 2019 window is open from February 13 until May 7 for transfers in to MLS Clubs.

Persuant to FIFA regulations, an International Transfer Certificate (ITC) is a requirement when completing an international transfer of a player. MLS teams are able to request International Transfer Certificates (ITC) from players’ former clubs to complete signings, loans and transfer deals.

With respect to outbound transfers, clubs may transfer or loan their players to non-MLS clubs at any time, subject to the transfer window of the recipient club’s national federation and subject to the consent of the player.

Major League Soccer maintains an official transactions page and transfer tracker; links are here:

official transactions page

transfer tracker

The Secondary Transfer Window will open on July 7 before closing on Aug. 7.

© 2019 Russo Law & Soccer