Milestone reached on construction site in northern Fort Lauderdale.
MIAMI, Fla. (November 6, 2019) —
Progress continues to be made on the Inter Miami Complex (we’ll call it the “Centro Deportivo”) in Fort Lauderdale, which includes a new stadium, the club’s training complex and Inter Miami CF Academy home.
Last Friday, November 1, the team of on-site construction personnel completed the installation of the first roof structure for the stadium. This milestone comes just weeks after the stadium “went vertical” with steel columns, followed by the installation of componentes of the secondary frame of the metal building as well as the horizontal structural members designed to provide lateral support for wall panels.
The yet-to-be-named, 18,000-capacity stadium (referred to simply as “Fort Lauderdale Stadium” in the interim) will serve as the temporary home of Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami for its first two MLS seasons, 2020 and 2021, before the club moves into its home stadium at Miami Freedom Park in Miami.
Fort Lauderdale Stadium is being constructed on the site of the former Lockhart Stadium. It will continue to house Inter Miami’s USL League One team once the first team moves into its Miami home.
Another key moment will be reached in mid-November, when the grass at Fort Lauderdale Stadium and for the training fields is expected to be installed.
Other portions of the 46-acre Centro Deportivo are also progressing. The Training Complex – where Inter Miami’s MLS, USL, and Academy teams will permanently train – is also taking shape. The 50,000-square-foot (4,645 sq. m) building continues to undergo steel, concrete, and roofing installations.
The stadium and training complex at the Centro Deportivo will be ready in time for the beginning of the 2020 season. Here are a couple of preview images released by Inter Miami:
More than 200 people are working as part of the Lockhart Construction Team, including Manica Architecture, Perez & Perez Architects Planners, Bliss & Nitray, Inc. Structural Engineers, SDM Consulting Engineers, Flynn Engineering Services and EDSA, Inc. They will continue their work to deliver this project ahead of Inter Miami’s inaugural season debut in March 2020. Inter Miami’s first home game is tentatively scheduled for March 14, 2020, a date which will be confirmed when MLS releases next season’s calendar in a few weeks.
Thursday Oct. 24th, at 6:00 p.m. the City of Miami Commission will meet at City Hall and Miami Freedom Park is once again on the Agenda.
Some Commissioners are determined to destroy the grand vision of Miami Freedom Park, a project which will transform a place that is public on paper but which in reality cannot be enjoyed by most residents of Miami. A project which will provide so much for our community: jobs, a large park, a tech hub, public soccer fields, a home for Inter Miami CF and a place for all to gather.
Some commissioners are trying undermine our 62% majority vote that we City of Miami voters returned last November. They represent the people and should not place their own agenda over the will of our residents.
Voice your support for our Miami Freedom Park! Inter Miami CF needs your support at 6:00 p.m. at City Hall.
Yesterday, Inter Miami CF Managing Owner Jorge Mas was interviewed on the radio show Cada Tarde with Carinés Moncada and Agustín Acosta on Actualidad 1040AM in Miami. This interview came as the City of Miami Commissioners take up the issue of Miami Freedom Park once again this Thursday, October 24, 2019 at Miami City Hall (3500 Pan American Dr, Miami, FL 33133). Supporters are encouraged to email their city commissioners and show up to demonstrate their support as early as 8:00 a.m.
The complete interview (en españo) is available on YouTube and linked here:
The half-hour long interview touched on many points. Here are some of the points that came out:
The reception Inter Miami has experienced in South Florida has been amazing. Ticket sales have been very strong with almost all of the season tickets for the first season already sold. The first home game will be March 14, 2020 at the new Inter Miami temporary home stadium in Fort Lauderdale.
On the issue of the value of the land where Miami Freedom Park is to be constructed, Mas said: “From day one, we have always said we are disposed to pay [rent] based on the fair market value of the land.” He added, “The value of the land is the value of the land. When the professional appraisers determine what the land is worth, that’s the value. We have to leave it to the processional appraisers to determine that. I’m not interested in negotiating their figure.”
On the stigma left behind by the taxpayer-financed Marlins Park deal which has been a frequent rallying cry for those opposed to Miami Freedom Park, Mas had this to say: “What happened with the Marlins stadium, we cannot penalize this project and the aspirations to bring soccer to Miami. This project is totally different from the Marlins. Here, the city is not contributing one cent.”
On the issue of why the land at Melreese should not be put out for a request for proposals as has been suggested by Commissioner Carollo, Jorge Mas said “During the last seventeen months, and all the discussion about why not put the land out for bidding, there was no solicitation process when I brought this project forward, not even an idea for one. At the same time, during these seventeen months any developer anywhere in the world could have gone to the City of Miami with a better idea for this Melreese golf course, and no one came forward.” Mas said that this shows that there has to be a public bid is not true. Here any person can make an unsolicited bid for city property.”
“I want this franchise to play in Miami. It’s our city. We deserve this team. I’ve seen the passion for fútbol (soccer) around the world. The passion exists in Miami. I can say without any doubt that I believe that Inter Miami will become the most popular team in our city in three, four, or five years, but not longer than that.” Mas stressed this will be due to the type of team and players that Inter Miami is going to have, the type of fans that already exist, for the type of international teams that are going to visit and play here, for the type of tournaments we can have here. He also cited the impact that the team is going to have on young players with its academy, mentioning that the Inter Miami Academy has already played in an international tournament in South Korea, and the impact that the team will have on the community. He mentioned that Inter Miami will also probably incorporate a women’s professional team in a few years also. “We’re going to establish something extraordinarily positive for our city.”
As Commissioner Reyes Continues Crusade Against Miami Freedom Park, Ignoring Clear Mandate From The Electorate, Commissioner Carollo mounts his own attempt to derail the project.
Contentious City Commission Meeting Awaits.
MIAMI, Fla. (October 18, 2019) —
Miami Freedom Park faces yet more challenges and potential derailments, as the City of Miami Commission prepares for a contentious meeting on October 24, 2019 at Miami City Hall.
Miami Freedom Park & Soccer Village, the collective name for the project, will be built using entirely private funds and not city tax dollars, and will create one of Miami’s largest public parks at 58 acres. Approximately 73 acres will be used for a soccer stadium for Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami, soccer fields for the community, a tech hub, hotel, restaurant, retail and entertainment spaces. The $1 billion dollar project that stands to bring millions in revenue for the city, state, county and school board. The city-owned land, currently occupied by Melreese Country Club, will be leased by the city for a term, which, with options, could reach 99 years, with Miami Freedom Park, LLC making annual lease payments of no less than $3.5 million (based on a third-party fair-market-value appraisal). They will also pay the full cost of the environmental remediation of the property, which is estimated to be in the millions of dollars and will provide a living wage salary of no less than $15/hour for employees working on the property.
In a referendum placed on the ballot in accordance with the City Charter (29B), and subsequently passed by voters on November 6, 2018, the City of Miami is allowed to waive competitive bidding and enter into negotiations for the lease of the city-owned land at the Melreese site. It should be pointed out that the referendum passed in all five City of Miami commission districts. (The referendum was only open to City of Miami voters and not all Miami-Dade County voters, due to the fact that the land is entirely within the City boundaries.)
The debate over the project may climax on October 24, when city commissioners consider a lease that would allow the redevelopment project to move forward. However, City Manager Emilio Gonzalez says that lease is not ready to be voted on, due to the fact that appraisals requested by the city commissioners are not complete, nor are additional items requested, such as traffic study and total remediation costs for the heavily-contaminated golf course.
City Commissioner Manolo Reyes accused the Beckham group of “game playing” to try to stall a vote until after elections are held in November (Commissioner Gort, another opponent of the project, will be out of office due to term limits). However, the travel of this matter does not substantiate such a claim. In fact, Miami Freedom Park delivered a lease to the City, as promised, on June 5, 2019.
At the most recent commission meeting on October 10, 2019, a meeting where Miami Freedom Park was not even on the agenda, Mayor Francis Suarez reminded Commissioner Reyes and the rest of the commission that they took months to select the two law firms that are negotiating on behalf of the city. Suarez further pointed out that the commission chose to weigh in on the process for selecting firms to conduct outside studies that would form the basis of negotiations, decisions that took time over the summer. Thus, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the contract is not ready to vote on and is not likely going to be ready for the city commissioners to consider before the November election.
“This commission mandated that there be three outside studies done: environmental, traffic report and an appraisal,” Suarez said. “None of those are completed, and they will not be completed by tomorrow (Oct 11),” referring to the deadline to have items submitted for the next commission meeting on October 24.
The city commissioners, at a May 23 commission meeting, had an intense debate on which of 16 law firms who had applied would be selected as consultants. After listening to lawyers from several firms, and continued contention from Commissioner Reyes who was adamant that the chosen firm have nothing to do with Cuba, they voted to have City Attorney Victoria Mendez pick from three firms. Reyes voted no at that meeting. The City eventually settled on Shutts & Bowenn, LLP to assist in the negotiations, on June 17, 2019.
The fact that Commissioner Reyes continues to wage war on Miami Freedom Park comes as no surprise. He has vehemently opposed the project since the first day it was on the agenda at city hall. He has argued that the city didn’t follow “the process.” He has argued that there was no transparency. He has gone on radio talk shows to dismiss the project. Now, he has sponsored the following resolution to try to force a vote on a lease which is not ready:
The most recent city commission meeting on October 10, 2019 was yet another display of political division among Miami’s elected leaders. Two commissioners separately demanded an October 24 vote on the lease agreement, despite it not being ready. Commissioner Joe Carollo, one of Suarez’s political foes, also wants to vote on a resolution that would require the city to suspend all negotiations with Miami Freedom Park and authorise a request for proposals (“RFP”) to redevelop most of Melreese, which bids, per the terms of the resolution, would need to include a “luxury hotel and golf resort.” The meeting ended in a shouting match.
In response to these attacks on the Miami Freedom Park plan, Mayor Francis Suarez, a proponent, said he is ready to use his “veto pen” if the commission votes on a deal he feels isn’t ready. Suarez’s veto could only be overridden by the city commission with four out of five votes. It’s also worth mentioning that the referendum approved by voters does not contain any deadline by which a vote on the project must occur.
Commissioner Russell’s chief concern with this project is green space, and he has made it clear that any green space lost by the conversion of Melreese must be made up acre-for-acre. “If this deal yields the loss of one acre of green space in the city of Miami, I will vote no,” he said. Given that Miami has less green space and less public spaces in general than practically any large city in the United States, and lacks a grand park like more famous world-class cities, his argument has merit. The city has a law that requires parkland that is rezoned to be replaced, so there is no net loss to the city. Miami Freedom Park has always been on-board with the replacing of any lost green space. It was even part of a term sheet signed last summer. Moreover, in conjunction with the lease agreement submitted to the City of Miami, Miami Freedom Park has also delivered a Community Benefits Agreement, honouring its vow to gift $5 million for the City’s Riverwalk/Baywalk project, $20 million for park maintenance and free access to the soccer fields at Miami Freedom Park for City of Miami youth. Details of these agreements are available on the Miami Freedom Park website.
Inter Miami CF and Miami Freedom Park have also honoured their commitment to finalise an agreement with the First Tee program, ensuring the organisation will continue to serve children at a new location.
Managing Owner Jorge Mas has always remained positive. “Miami Freedom Park is working diligently to finalise a lease agreement with the city of Miami,” Mas said. “Sixty percent of city of Miami residents, an overwhelming majority, voted to amend the city charter and authorised the city to negotiate with Miami Freedom Park; we remain focused on fulfilling that voter mandate. We invite residents to visit our website to learn more and share their input.”
What lies ahead for this ambitious plan? We will know more shortly. Maybe. The project has made it this far, it has won an election that many said was impossible. Representatives of Miami Freedom Park have held countless sessions across the city in recent months that have been open to the public, in order to answer questions, educate, and hear residents’ concerns.
There is every reason to believe it will cross the finish line.
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.
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:
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
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 and Soccer Village 2018 Promotional Video, courtesy of Inter Miami CF:
KIN Partners will be the exclusive sponsorship sales representation agency.
Miami, FL (Tuesday, February 5, 2019) by Kenneth Russo –
Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami (“Inter Miami CF”) continues to make impressive steps in its development, now with slightly more than one year before it kicks off play in North America’s Major League Soccer.
The club announced on February 1, 2019, that it has entered into a contract with the London-based firm, which is headed up by industry veterans Simon Oliveira and Matthew Kay, KIN recently expanded into Miami and Oliveira, the Managing Director of KIN, has previously worked on Beckham’s other business projects. Among KIN’s roster of international clients is Neymar, Jr.
KIN’s role will be to identify and develop sponsorship opportunities for the expansion club.
“Miami is recognised as a global city with a mix of wonderful cultures and we cannot wait to start working with both the vastly impressive ownership group and one of the most exciting properties in world sports today,” said Matthew Kay.
Given the transformational aspect of Miami Freedom Park, partnering with an international agency appears to be a smart move. Interest in Inter Miami CF has been high, and the home of the team, in addition to a 25,000 seat stadium, a public park and public soccer fields, will feature hotel, entertainment and retail space as well as a technology hub. It is a US$1 billion complex that will create thousands of jobs and generate millions of dollars in tax revenue to the city, county, state and school board.
Miami, FL (Tuesday, January 29, 2019) by Kenneth Russo –
Happy Birthday Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami! January 29, 2018. It has been one year. One year since David Beckham took the stage at the Knight Concert Hall at the Adrienne Arsht Center and delivered a famous speech in which he recounted how his academy coach once told him “You’ll never make it as a footballer.” “I never quit,” was Beckham’s reply. One year since Marcelo Claure also gave a speech recounting the story of the more than four years between the original announcement on February 5, 2014, during which he and David Beckham tried unsuccessfully to secure a stadium site and to find suitable investors in order to be able to launch the Miami Major League Soccer Club. About how he and David had concluded that the dream was “too big” and against their wishes, had decided to move on. One year since Jorge Mas gave an emotionally charged speech in which he told the story of how he had been contacted by MLS Commissioner Donald Garber, who asked him if he would be interested in co-investing and helping David Beckham get the Miami franchise off the ground, and what Miami has meant to his family and those of people who come here from other places to make a better life.
Between January 29, 2018 and September 5th, the club used the name “Fútbol Miami” as a placeholder while deciding on the actual name, colours and logo. We knew the owners were getting closer, and during the summer several potential team names appeared in trademark searches online at the USPTO. These names, trademarks by lawyers at the direction of companies connected to Miami Beckham United, LLC, included many outstanding names including Club Atlético Miami, Miami Mundial Club de Fútbol, and others. See USPTO Search.
One of the biggest highlights of the year came before daybreak on Wednesday, September 5, 2018. In the predawn hours, a giant mural painted by local artist Alejandro Mijares was revealed on the walls of a building at the corner of SW 8th Street and SW 1st Avenue in the Brickell neighbourhood of downtown Miami, revealing the club’s name and badge.
At the same time, the team had the front and back covers of the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald wrapped in pink with the team’s logo and explanations about the symbology. Mijares also painted the newly revealed logo on a wall in the Wynwood neighbourhood.
In the months since then, the club had many firsts. Soon after, plans were announced to redevelop Melreese Golf Course into the future home of Inter Miami CF and Miami Freedom Park. In July, we endured two full days of hearings before the City of Miami Commissioners, in a the effort by Miami Freedom Park, LLC to have a measure placed on the ballot to allow residents of the City of Miami to decide whether the City should negotiate to enter into a long-term lease of city-owned land at the Melreese Golf Course. In the end, three out of five commissioners approved.
On November 6, 2018, the club celebrated its biggest victory to date: the measure to transform Melreese Golf Course into a world-class stadium and Miami’s largest park, along with 23 acres of public soccer fields, an office/hotel complex with technology jobs and entertainment area passed with a strong majority of voters saying “Yes on 378.” “We won tonight!” are the now famous words of Jorge Mas.
It was also a year when the club made its initial moves on the soccer operations and business sides of the front office. Paul McDonough was the first staff member to be hired when he was appointed to the post of Sporting Director in August, just a few weeks before the unveiling of the club´s name and badge. A short time later, on September 20, 2019, Jurgen Mainka, who had previously worked at Concacaf and other MLS Clubs, was named as the club’s first Chief Business Officer. In October, the club named Dennis Sprenkleas the head of HR and Administration. At the beginning of January, 2019,Kurt Schmid joined as the first Technical Director, followed by Niki Budalic as the first Director of Soccer Operations. In the last couple of weeks prior to the one year anniversary, the club began laying the foundation of its Academy, adding Victor Pastora and Juan Carlos Michia, both of whom had been key figures in the famed Weston Football Club youth academy program.
Indeed, it was a year of many firsts. What lies ahead for Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami? A look at this video tells us: “Wait, that was just the beginning. We’re not done. Not by a long way.” It is going to be an exciting 2019.