Beckham’s Inter Miami, Jeter’s Marlins Haven't Delivered On Development Promises
Beckham United, a partnership including Beckham and Jorge Mas, head of infrastructure firm MasTec, owns the Major League Soccer team Inter Miami. The group for years tried to get a soccer stadium built in Miami but ran into roadblocks with multiple sites. The partners are negotiating a lease with the city to build a $1B complex with a 25,000-seat stadium plus retail, offices and a hotel on a public golf course.
In the meantime, the team moved ahead farther north in Fort Lauderdale, where it was comparatively easy to demolish an existing soccer stadium and build a new one for $160M with 18,000 seats on 40 acres of publicly owned land. The team struck a deal to pay no rent for 50 years but promised to build a park and sports fields for the public on some 20 acres south of the stadium. The team announced plans to keep the Fort Lauderdale facility as its permanent training space but play pro games in Miami once a stadium is built.
Inter Miami began playing games in 2020. The Fort Lauderdale stadium is being called DRV PNK, promoting both breast cancer awareness and a sponsor’s car dealership. The team did build a football field for youths nearby.
Now the team has proposed building a facility for a national women’s soccer program but wants to locate it on some of the acreage in Fort Lauderdale that was meant for the public park.
Vice Mayor Heather Moraitis alerted her constituents to the proposal in an email. She told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel she is against further giveaways for the team.
“We get zero property tax revenue," she said. "We get zero revenue from ticket sales.”
An attorney for Beckham United said the team would have built the park when it built the stadium, but the city didn’t have input from residents at the time. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit.
Commissioners will vote on the facility proposal in the coming months. Some commissioners indicated they support the proposal and credited the team with transforming a rundown site.
In Miami, a similar story played out with a Major League Baseball team. The Miami Marlins' stadium, now called loanDepot Park, was one of the most controversial projects ever. It was built with taxpayer funds — citizens will ultimately pay nearly $3B — only to draw small crowds to see a poorly performing team. The owners responsible for the new stadium sold the team for $1.2B in 2017 to a group headed by Jeter.
Miami Today, a small local newspaper, reported that the team's contract with the city calls for a $3M youth facility but lacks specifics. The paper occasionally prods the team about its obligation. In the meantime, similar academies have been built in other cities with Major League Baseball teams, and the Marlins broke ground on a youth academy in the Dominican Republic.
“The stadium deal has never met a single promise," Miami Today publisher Michael Lewis wrote in February. "It did not revitalize Little Havana. It did not bring in four-star restaurants. It did not keep the team from moving away as was threatened, because no move was ever on the table. It did not bring in a promised Major League Baseball youth academy.”
Taxpayers will still be paying the bill through at least 2048.