- The Miami City Commission has approved a 99 year lease to the owners of MLS side Inter Miami CF for a redevelopment project that includes a new soccer specific stadium.
- Inter Miami is owned by Jorge Mas, Jose Mas and legendary England captain David Beckham.
- Tentative plans suggest that the stadium will be completed in late 2024 or early 2025.
Major League Soccer (MLS) side Inter Miami has a legit superstar in their ownership group (David Beckham) and by far the coolest color scheme in all of professional sports (pink and black). They’re now well on their way to having their own soccer stadium. Last week, the Miami City Commission approved a 99 year lease to the owners of MLS side Inter Miami CF for a redevelopment project that includes a new soccer specific stadium. Tentative plans suggest that the new stadium–Miami Freedom Park–could be finished in late 2024 or early 2025. Until then, the team will continue to play home games at the DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.
David Beckham was a damn good soccer player–some of his free kicks are still otherworldly 10 years out from his retirement–and has lived like a rock star. To his credit, he’s by all accounts a class guy despite being insanely rich and ridiculously good looking. He’s always been active in philanthropic endeavors and is the first Englishman to win league titles in four countries (England, Spain, US, France). He was also named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2003 by Queen Elizabeth II. For the past eight years, he’s been trying to grow a MLS soccer team and build a soccer specific stadium in Miami. After a rollercoaster ride full of highs and lows along the way, it looks like that will now come to fruition.
Miami Freedom Park will be a very ambitious effort, even by the standards of other professional sports venues. It is 100% privately funded by club ownership and the lease approval was presumably the final major bureaucratic snafu that the project will have to deal with. Here’s a description of the Freedom Park project from the team website:
Miami Freedom Park will become a recreation destination that all Miamians can enjoy, providing 58 acres of public parks and green space, a tech hub, restaurants and shops, soccer fields for the community, a 25,000 stadium for Inter Miami, and many more features.
The project will not utilize any city dollars as it is 100% privately funded by club ownership. Miami Freedom Park received overwhelming support from City of Miami residents, having received more than 60% voter approval last November’s referendum. With this vote, the residents have indicated that they want the City to negotiate and execute a lease for the proposed land for specific project.
Miami Freedom Park will deliver an array of benefits to the community unlike any other sports-related development in our city. It will pay fair market value rent, as well as living wages for all onsite employees. Miami Freedom Park will contribute more than $40 million in annual tax revenue to the City of Miami, Miami-Dade County, State of Florida and Miami-Dade County Public Schools, and will create 15,000 direct and indirect jobs.
Miami Freedom Park will be located Northwest of downtown Miami on land currently occupied by the International Links Melreese Country Club. Judge Smails fought the plan to the very end but after a caddy won a golf bet the project lived on. Wait–that’s the plot of Caddyshack. International Links Melreese Country Club is actually owned by the city and is near the Miami International Airport. The project will be built on 1312 acres of land, with 73 acres earmarked for $1 billion USD stadium, hotel, office park and ‘commercial campus’. Since I’m a sucker for any architectural rendering, here’s an aerial view. The feature photo of this article is the exterior of the planned soccer stadium:
Miami Freedom Park architectural rendering
Inter Miami CEO and managing owner Jorge Mas was obviously elated at the commission’s vote:
“I’m super happy. [It’s been] three-and-a-half years of really hard work, negotiations, the ups and downs. But listen, today’s a great day for Inter Miami. It’s a great day for Major League Soccer. I think it’s an amazing day for my city, for Miami. To be able to build a stadium and a transformational development around this, listen, I think it’s a good day all around. But a lot of hard work went into this and the work just continues.”
“I said early on today, it’s gonna be a great day was confident. I was very confident. If not, this wouldn’t have taken place today. So it’s the right outcome with the roller coaster ride that the day was. But yeah, I’m feeling great and I felt I felt really good all day.”
There’s still some more pointless red tape to deal with, most involving zoning issues. Mas is resigned to the reality of politicians and soulless bureaucrats interfering with a project that would benefit the entire city. He says it’s just part of the process:
“It’ll just take the time it takes. But the city has committed to us that they’re going to do everything on an expedited basis with permitting. They understand the urgency of getting this built as soon as possible. So I expect that with the city’s cooperation that we’ll be able to move, hopefully on a fast track basis.”
There’s a lot of good things happening in Miami under the watch of Mayor Francis Suarez. The South Florida area is becoming one of the up and coming tech hubs in North America. An article on the Aventura Magazine website tossed around a trillion dollar (USD) valuation for the area’s tech industry. Some observers have suggested that it could one day surpass San Francisco. Even more remarkable–the majority of the growth has come about in just 16 months. Even more remarkable–if only partially true–is the legend that it all started with one Tweet from Suarez. On December 4, 2020 a venture capitalist sent the following:
ok guys hear me out, what if we move silicon valley to miami— delian 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 (@zebulgar) December 4, 2020
To which Mayor Suarez replied:
How can I help? https://t.co/hIC1k8ka1i— Mayor Francis Suarez (@FrancisSuarez) December 5, 2020
The reality is that Miami’s tech boom has multiple causalities, but Mayor Suarez’s enthusiasm for Bitcoin, cryptocurrency and growing the area as a tech hub sure hasn’t hurt. That Suarez has been able to lure so much investment to the Miami area despite the state’s lunatic governor (Donald Trump ‘Mini-Me’ Ron DeSantis) is even more remarkable. Miami is becoming a very livable city and a highly desirable place for digital nomads, remote workers and the like. Facilities like Miami Freedom Park play into the ‘livability’ narrative perfectly.