MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The goal of bringing a Major League Soccer franchise to Miami has taken a major step forward.
The Miami-Dade County Commission voted to approve the sale of three undeveloped acres of land that essentially completes the footprint for the stadium.
The resolution clears a major hurdle in Miami Beckham United’s push for a new soccer stadium in Overtown.
The discussion among commissioners began around 11 a.m. Tuesday and culminated in an approval vote of 9-4.
Beckham’s group finished presenting their plan to commissioners just before noon.
The $9 million sale is one of the final pieces of the puzzle needed to build a 25,000 seat soccer stadium.
The approval comes while a number of people voiced both concern and support for the venue.
Most of the criticism comes from the Spring Gardens community of Overtown.
“I want you consider me and think of me when I’m not able to sleep at night, because I have to deal with the noise and the lights, and the traffic and the crowds that are walking through my neighborhood, driving through my neighborhood, preventing me from coming home at a reasonable hour,” said Mededith Bay, who lives in Spring Gardens.
The residents complained about everything from parking to crowds, to the noise that would be coming out of the stadium.
Supporters on the other hand are asking commissioners to consider the impact on the community as a whole.
“It’s not about money. It’s not about noise. It’s not about traffic,” said stadium supporter Chris Allen. “It’s about the impact that this sport can have on people. The impact it can have on the kids.”
Supporters call this a great opportunity.
It’s important to note that the vote was to approve the sale of the land, but it hasn’t actually been sold yet.
The two sides have a year to close the deal.
Also, the City of Miami will have to approve the site for its intended use.
Miami-Dade Commissioner Audrey Edmonson pointed out the site is tainted and sat vacant for decades.
“This is contaminated land and property and I think something needs to be done with it now,” said Edmonson.
And while neighbors pleaded for a Costco, Beckham’s group pledged to be good neighbors.
“We are talking about perhaps 35 events total over the course of the year,” said Beckham Group attorney Neisen Kasdin. “That’s less than 10 percent of the year. So it’s not going to be school days and work days, it is the least intrusive activity you can have.”
After commissioners agreed to sell the land, Beckham partner Tim Leiweke said he understood the level of mistrust stemming from the Marlins Ballpark deal and promised this is not a repeat.
“We are not here to take money from the county or the city,” Leiweke said. “We will pay for this project ourselves privately. We will operate it privately. We will pay property taxes and we will be good neighbors. But Miami be part of this soccer revolution.”
Beckham’s group of investors recently swung back into action after what felt like months of dormancy.
That’s because Todd Boehly, a sports mogul with deep pockets, joined the collection of potential owners earlier this year to help bankroll the project.
Boehly is part-owner of MLB’s Los Angeles Dodgers.
With new investor on board, Beckham’s group began the process of buying the final three acres of land needed to build the stadium.
Miami-Dade County had been ready to sell since Miami Beckham United began to purchase the adjacent land for the future stadium site.
Miami Beckham United is hoping to have a team ready to play in 2018 (thought 2019 seems more realistic), but they aren’t sure where they will play until the stadium is built.
Ironically, the team could play at Marlins Park in the interim.
The group deserves praise for trying to build a stadium without any public subsidies, although they will get to buy the land before it hits the open market in exchange for adding fifty full-time jobs at the venue.
Half of those jobs must pay at least $15 per hour.
Tuesday’s vote result is the closest that the investors have gotten to realizing their dream of bringing an MLS team to Miami.
It was considered by many as their best opportunity to date, and possibly moving forward.
“This is, frankly, I believe our last opportunity here for Miami to have Major League soccer,” Miami-Dade Mayor Carols Gimenez said last month of the vote.
The 2014 public launch for Beckham’s Miami franchise feels like a long, long time ago to many South Florida soccer fans who have been patiently waiting for some good news on the topic.
It was late in 2015 when the Overtown site was first viewed as a potential home to the stadium, but things have progressed very slowly since then.
Both Beckham’s group and local soccer fans are hoping things began to move at a much more rapid pace now.