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Inter Miami Gets $75M From Ares Management For Stadium Construction

Soccer superstar Lionel Messi's new club has received an infusion of capital from a private equity giant toward the construction of a new stadium.

Miami Freedom Park is planned to include a 25,000-seat stadium and around 600K SF of dining and retail space.

Los Angeles-based Ares Management provided a $75M preferred equity investment to Major League Soccer's Inter Miami. The funding will be used for the construction of Inter Miami’s planned Miami Freedom Park stadium complex and other growth initiatives, according to a statement. 

The investment adds to the $150M Ares has already invested in Inter Miami over the last two years. The publicly traded investment firm raised $3.7B last year dedicated to funding sports leagues, sports-related franchises and related media companies.

Prior to raising the funds, Ares had already invested around $1B in 19 sports companies, according to Front Office Sports, including a $217M investment in Spanish soccer club Atletico Madrid and the purchase of around $100M in debt from Major League Baseball's San Diego Padres.

“Ares has been an important collaborator over the last two years in helping to accelerate the growth of Inter Miami,” Jorge Mas, managing owner of Inter Miami, said in a statement. “This latest investment comes at an inflection point for the Club with the planned development of our new stadium and the joining of Lionel Messi, among other key initiatives that are positioning the Club for long-term success.” 

Mas and his son, Jose, the leaders of Miami-based construction firm MasTec, own the team along with soccer icon David Beckham.

Despite being at the bottom of the MLS ladder, Inter Miami has seen interest in the team skyrocket following the arrival of Messi last month. Home game ticket prices jumped as much as 1,000% in June after Messi signaled he would sign with the team, and Mas has said the club's valuation could grow from around $600M to as high as $1.5B in the next year.  

Messi has already scored seven goals in his first four games with the club, and a video of him shopping at a South Florida Publix went viral on the internet.

Inter Miami is preparing to break ground on the new stadium complex east of Miami International Airport following years of negotiations with city and county officials. The development is planned to include a 25,000-seat stadium, 360K SF of restaurant space, 240K SF of retail space, 400K SF of office space, a 750-key hotel and 58 acres of public parks. 

The complex will replace the International Links Melreese Country Club, a privately run golf course on city-owned land that closed in February to make way for the stadium.  

Inter Miami cleared the last hurdle for the stadium’s construction in early July when the Miami-Dade County Commission approved amendments to zoning rules that had prohibited the development of venues near airports that would attract large public gatherings. 

Mas told reporters in June that site work for Miami Freedom Park was "imminent," and on Aug. 4, the city of Miami agreed to pay Miami-Dade County around $4M to add water and sewer connections to the site. 

Inter Miami currently plays at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, where it debuted in 2020 after failing to find a suitable site in Miami-Dade. The soccer club added around 3,000 seats to the stadium after signing Messi, bringing its total capacity to around 22,000. 

Miami is also attracting investment from other soccer organizations ahead of the city being among the U.S. locations that will host the Copa America tournament next year and the World Cup in 2026.

FIFA opened a 60K SF office in Coral Gables last week as “part of ongoing preparations” for the World Cup, the Miami Herald reported. FIFA President Gianni Infantino is expected to relocate to Miami ahead of the 2026 tournament, and the office is likely to become the organization's long-term U.S. base of operations, Bloomberg reported.

The Argentine Football Association is also close to securing final approval to build a training facility on public land behind an elementary school in North Bay Village, a small, three-island community nestled between Miami and Miami Beach. 

The proposal includes plans for five soccer fields, padel courts, a community center and a police station. The AFA would lease the land from the county and school system for $97.5M over 30 years.  

A representative for the AFA told The Athletic that the facility would become the Argentine national team’s U.S. headquarters and would occasionally host the team for training.  

The Miami-Dade Public School Board is expected to vote on the project on Sept. 6 before the North Bay Village Commission considers the project in mid-September, Axios reported.