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.

Inter Miami CF Enters Into Agreement with KIN

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.

The announcement comes within days after Inter Miami put forward plans to build a training facility, including a multi-purpose stadium, on the site of the Lockhart Stadium, previously used by the now defunct North American Soccer League’s (NASL) Fort Lauderdale Strikers.

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.

© 2019 Russo Law & Soccer

Inter Miami CF celebrates its 1st birthday! A year of firsts. ¡Inter Miami CF celebra su primer cumpleaños! Un año de novedades.

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.

The Wall of Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami in Brickell.

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.

The morning papers on Sep. 5, 2018
Logo painted on a wall in Wynwood.

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 Sprenkle as 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.

© 2019 Russo Law & Soccer

Miami Freedom Park takes another step forward as negotiations with City of Miami are given go ahead

Miami, FL (Wednesday, January 16, 2019) by Kenneth Russo –

Miami Freedom Park. “Let The People Decide.” After much debate, the people of Miami were allowed to decide. They voted on November 6, 2018, and the people said, “Let’s do this.” And now, the next phase of making the dream a reality took another step forward. The will of the people will prevail.

It’s coming.

As reported today in the Miami Herald by Joey Flechas, Jose Arrojo, executive director of the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust, confirmed that the lobbyists involved in the soccer stadium deal had fulfilled their registration requirement. Miami City Attorney Victoria Mendez was officially informed by the county ethics commission Wednesday morning, via a letter advising her that the issue regarding lobbyists’ registrations had been resolved.

Miami’s city administrators thus have a green light to work out details of a 99-year lease with Miami Freedom Park, LLC. Despite the fact that the complaint remains open, the city can begin negotiating the lease under the broad terms overwhelmingly approved by voters in the November referendum.

City Manager Emilio Gonzalez and his staff will work with Miami Freedom Park, LLC, of which Jorge Mas is currently the sole member. (1) The basic terms of this transaction were made part of a term sheet agreed to as part of the city commission sessions on July 17, 2018. (2) Now, the parties will begin negotiations and a prepare a document that will outline the terms under which Melreese Country Club, located on 131 acres of public land adjacent to Miami International Airport, will be transformed into the visionary Miami Freedom Park — a $1 billion private development that will have a 25,000 seat stadium in a 10-acre corner of the property that will serve as home to Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami and which will include Miami Freedom Park, a 58 acre park that will be the city’s largest, as well as public soccer fields. From there, a formal ground lease can be drafted and presented to the city commissioners for ratification.

While there is much discussion in the Herald article concerning the ownership structure of Miami Freedom Park, LLC, in reality a limited liability company can easily alter its legal ownership in a straightforward procedure to add additional owners, who are referred to as ‘members’. This means the other investor-owners of the soccer team (which is operated under Miami Beckham United, LLC) would be admitted at the appropriate time. It is a fairly common practice in commercial transactions. As it stands right now, the primary business interest of Miami Freedom Park, LLC will be what is known as a ‘leasehold interest,’ i.e., the ground lease with the city, and that of course does not exist yet. Thus, the issue of who the members of Miami Freedom Park, LLC are is not relevant since there is no interest to share yet with other potential members. The terms and conditions of the lease must first be worked out. Moreover, there are also practical and necessary reasons beyond the scope of this article as to why the company holding the lease with the city is different from the entity owning Inter Miami CF, reasons that have nothing to do with lack of transparency.

It should also be mentioned that during the two days of sessions held at city hall last summer, which I attended, the issue of the identities of the principles of Miami Freedom Park, LLC was never raised by city commissioners or officials.

What’s next for Miami Freedom Park? Once a lease is agreed to, it requires the approval of four out of five city commissioners. With Commissioner Reyes eternally opposed based on his interpretation of ‘the process’ and Commissioner Gort also speaking against, the Herald writer made a point of including the usual rhetoric from Reyes and Gort, and described the likelihood for success at the city commission as being “a long shot.” But that sells this vision short. Critics and doubters have been spelling doom for the Miami MLS project at every step of the way over the past five years – and they’ve been wrong every time.

When asked about the chances of success, Jorge Mas had this to say: “The city of Miami voters spoke loud and clear in overwhelming fashion. And no matter the delays or obstacles we will deliver this project to our residents.”

“We have instructed our team and lawyers to ‘GO’ and bring this before the commission as soon as possible with the exact deal and benefits voters approved,” Jorge Mas stated. “We fully anticipate that the commission will listen to the voters and residents, but reiterate we are in this for the long haul if necessary.”

This dream that David Beckham and his co-investors have has always been about having vision, about the power of perseverance and the determination to never give up. In the words of Beckham himself at the formal announcement of Fútbol Miami just about a year ago, “I never quit.” It must succeed, and it will. No matter how big the obstacle, I know where I’m placing my money.

Miami Herald – City can begin negotiations on lease

________________

(1) Miami Freedom Park, LLC is a Delaware Limited Liability Company, with its principal business address in Miami. It was filed in Delaware on 5/16/2018, and is duly authorized to do business in Florida.

(2) Link: Term Sheet for Ground Lease and Master Development Plan re Miami Freedom Park

Rendition of Miami Freedom Park by Miami Freedom Park, LLC