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The South Florida Roundup

Understand The 2018 Ballot: Miami Voters To Decide On Beckham Soccer Stadium

Hector Gabino
El Nuevo Herald
David Beckham greets Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez at a news conference in February. Voters will decide the future of the MLS Miami team's stadium in November.

Voters are facing a long ballot this general election – 105 different questions across the region.


City of Miami voters will be deciding on a few land-related deals. There’s the fate of David Beckham’s soccer stadium – whether to build the stadium on Miami’s only municipal golf course near the airport.

There’s another proposed public land deal involving waterfront real estate.

On the South Florida Roundup, WLRN’s Jessica Bakeman spoke about the details of these Miami ballot questions with Miami Herald reporter Joey Flechas.

WLRN: Tell us about the soccer stadium ballot question. What is it asking voters to decide? 

FLECHAS: There's been a lot of talk about David Beckham's Major League Soccer team coming to Miami, and the quest has been long. We've been talking about it for five years, and the main question has been where are they going to play.

This ballot question deals with that question. It's going to ask voters in Miami if they're willing to waive a public-bidding law so that the ownership group of this team can open Miami Freedom Park, which is a sprawling stadium and commercial complex that would replace Melreese Golf Course, the city-owned golf course that is directly east of Miami International Airport. 

If voters approve the question, it will be more than just the soccer stadium is that, right? 

That's right. It would come accompanied with a million square feet of retail space, offices and a hotel. It would come with a parking structure that would be one story. On the roof of that parking structure would be public soccer fields. It would come also with a 58-acre public park that would actually not be leased to the ownership group but still owned by Miami but developed by the ownership group. Also a golf entertainment facility kind of like Topgolf. That is the kind of site plan for this park. 

And the idea is that usually the City of Miami would have to put out a public solicitation and allow people to come bid so that taxpayers can get the best bang for their buck, right? In this case, this has come together very quickly in the last several months. What the city is asking the voters to consider is to waive that bidding requirement and give this deal to David Beckham and his partners. 

Is this a question of soccer versus golf? 

It's more nuanced than that. I think that it can be easily characterized that way and politicized that way. A lot of it has to do with whether or not there's going to be a private use on public land. And I think there's a lot of people that have been pointing that out rightfully that that's at the heart of this question. If you're going to make this deal to allow someone who's going to have a for-profit development on this public land. 

What happens to David Beckham's soccer team if this is not approved by voters.? 

One of his partners is Jorge Mas, who joined the ownership group late last year and really pushed for them to move out of a piece of land that they partially owned in Overtown. And that was the most recent version of the stadium plan: to be built in Overtown. What they're going to do after, if there is a "no" vote from the Miami voters, there's no Plan B. That was Jorge Mas's most recent answer.

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Alexander Gonzalez produces the afternoon newscasts airing during All Things Considered. He enjoys helping tell the South Florida story through audio and digital platforms. Alex is interested in a little of everything from business to culture to politics.
Jessica Bakeman is Director of Enterprise Journalism at WLRN News, and she is the former senior news editor and education reporter. Her 2021 project "Class of COVID-19" won a national Edward R. Murrow Award.