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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA) – A state appeals court Wednesday rejected a challenge to Miami-Dade County’s decision to sell land to soccer star David Beckham and his business partners to build a Major League Soccer stadium.

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The ruling by a panel of the 3rd District Court of Appeal stemmed from the county’s decision last year to sell 2.79 acres of land to Miami Properties, LLC, which was controlled by Beckham and his partners, for $9.015 million.

Miami Properties already owned adjacent land but needed the 2.79 acres for the soccer stadium, the ruling said. But neighboring property owner Bruce Matheson filed a lawsuit challenging the sale, contending that the county should have gone through a competitive bidding process for the 2.79 acres.

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But a circuit court dismissed the lawsuit, and the appeals court followed suit Wednesday.

“A nearby landowner challenged the sale claiming that the county had a clear legal duty to sell the property by competitive bidding, instead of outright to Beckham and his partners, so the landowner would have the opportunity to buy it,” said the 24-page ruling, written by appeals-court Judge Robert Luck and joined by judges Barbara Lagoa and Ivan Fernandez.

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“Must the county sell the land through the competitive bid process? No, because the land was sold as an economic development incentive to attract tourism and hospitality industries; attract and retain a soccer business enterprise; create a soccer stadium and new jobs with it; enhance and expand economic activity in the county; grow and create business enterprises in the county; and create construction and development jobs to build the stadium.”