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The long and rocky road that Englishman David Beckham and the owners of Inter Miami CF have walked finally came to an end, as they received a vote in favor from Miami commissioners (city councilors) for the Major Soccer League (MLS) team’s stadium.
After completing the minimum of four votes in favor (out of a total of five) required, Inter Miami will be able to start the construction of the stadium with a capacity of 25,000 spectators and thus end 8 years without its long-awaited stadium in the South Florida city.
The stadium will be located in what will be a complex near the airport, which will be called “Miami Freedom Park” and will also house a shopping center, offices, and a hotel.
The 99-year lease of a 52-acre site at the Melreese Country Club golf course, granted without competitive bidding as a result of a referendum in the 2018 election, will involve Miami a minimum rent of $3.57 million annually, as well as about $40 million in property taxes.
The professional soccer league club will also pay the city about $20 million to develop a 23-hectare public park at the site as a result of the deal, which was endorsed by Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.
During Thursday’s commission session, Suarez called the club’s proposal phenomenal, and also denounced a misinformation effort to discredit his administration’s work in negotiating the contract, which obligates Inter Miami to cover the cost of environmental cleanup at the site.
Commissioners Ken Russell, Alex Diaz de la Portilla, Joe Carollo, and Christine King voted in favor of the agreement, while Commissioner Manolo Reyes was the dissenting vote, Local 10 reported.
The roughly $1 billion stadium and complex have met opposition from several fronts, including a documentary by filmmaker Billy Corben, two former city managers, and some Melreese Country Club neighbors.
It has been a long road for Beckham to establish his team’s headquarters and stadium. The MLS originally announced in 2014 that it would grant the former England player a franchise in Miami for the soccer league.
The first target for Beckham and his partners was a site near the Port of Miami, where it ran into opposition from the powerful cruise industry and some city commissioners.
The club’s second attempt, a site in Maurice A. Ferré Park and near the Coliseum, also failed. Ferré Park and near the Miami Heat basketball team’s coliseum, for which it offered a rent of two million dollars a year.