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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Freedom Park proposal is going to penalty kicks.
After a day-long meeting stretched into the night, Miami commissioners decided not to decide anything and deferred their vote until next Wednesday meeting.
Three of the five city commissioners are needed to approve the proposed Major League Soccer stadium project, led by David Beckham and Jorge Mas, to send it to voters but they could not get there.
Commissioners Willy Gort, Manolo Reyes and Ken Russell all planned to vote no.
During the hearing, Russell made a passionate plea for more information. He also pushed for a $15 dollar minimum wage for anyone working on the project, a share in profits and making sure the city was not on the hook for any cost of cleaning up the property. After the meeting, he said he’s being cautious because he wants to help restore the city’s faith in its leaders.
“This is Miami, we always put the cart before the horse. We’ve got to learn to get things right and use the process. Our residents who have been so angry these past few weeks while this has been happening, they do it with reason. They’re doing so because they’re skeptical of our past. We’ve done a lot of bad deals in the past but we can do better,” he said.
Russell added that his issue with the proposal was that there wasn’t enough information for an informed vote. Mas said he can address that.
“The process has been condensed into about a week. We’re obviously on a timeline to get a stadium built. On Wednesday I’m very confident we’ll be able to incorporate what commissioners want,” he said. “I think it was obvious that Commissioner Russell did not have a lot of the information on the issues that he brought up and addressed. I’d be happy to address it.”
However, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said he feels that for the purpose of turning the vote over to the residents, the proposal has merits that would be beneficial to the city.
“You have a project where the team is doing just about everything they could possibly do,” he said. “Ultimately all I want is the owners of the property, Miami city residents which are my bosses, to make the final decision. Not anyone else.
After the meeting, Beckham did not offer any comments.
Supporters and opponents of a public vote on the Beckham soccer complex going up on the city-owned Melreese Country Club filled the Miami City commission chamber, jammed the Isles, and streamed far out the front door.
Among opponents of the Beckham plan, PGA pro Eric Compton.
“This is not about golf, this is not about soccer, it’s about big money and greed,” Compton told commissioners.
Critics of the proposal say the proposed stadium, hotel, and massive office complex included in the project will only help Beckham and his partner, developer Jorge Mas, get richer.
many spoke of the First Tee golf program that benefits 15,000 children a year, most at low or no charge.
“Thousands and thousands and thousands of people have been enriched for decades by Melreese,” one speaker said.
Supporters of Beckham’s project said it will enrich even more children.
“As much as the opposition tries to project it is taking away golf, it’s also bringing in an opportunity for other kids to play soccer,” said the young woman describing herself as both a golf and soccer player.
Beckham backers said the referendum should be held, let the voters decide up or down.