David Beckham’s Soccer Pitch on Polluted Site Gets Miami Voter OK

Nov. 7, 2018, 2:36 AM

David Beckham’s $1 billion plan for a pro soccer stadium and commercial complex in Miami got the green light Nov. 6 when voters approved a local ballot question to advance the project.

The project would include the stadium, a public park with youth soccer fields, and a complex of restaurants, retail, office space, and a hotel. It’s all planned to be built at the site of a city-owned golf course, which will require a costly cleanup of soil contamination.

The golf course—the Miami International Links, also known as the Melreese Country Club—was built in the 1960s using the city’s trash incinerator ash as fill dirt, resulting in potential contamination with arsenic, lead, mercury, dioxins, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

The city’s incinerators were shut down in the 1960s and 1970s amid environmental concerns, lawsuits, and court orders.

Up to $50 Million Cleanup

The project’s future still partly hinges on the extent of soil contamination at the golf course property. Miami businessman Jorge Mas, an investment partner of Beckham’s, publicly committed to the city in July that the developers would pay for environmental cleanup and provided a cost estimate of $30 million to $50 million.

The proposal is part of a plan by Beckham and partners to bring a Major League Soccer team to Miami. The team, Club Internacional de Futbol Miami, or Inter Miami, is scheduled to begin playing in 2020.

Voters were asked to decide whether to let the city commission skip its usual competitive bid process and directly negotiate a long-term lease with Beckham and his investment partners, including Mas.

The city’s voters gave their approval 60 percent to 40 percent, according to unofficial results from the Miami-Dade County Elections Department, with 90 percent of precincts reporting.

Mas and his partners also told city commissioners in July they will require business tenants at the commercial complex to pay a “living wage” to all workers, beginning at $11 an hour and stepping up to $15 an hour over four years.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Marr in Atlanta at cmarr@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Gregory Henderson at ghenderson@bloombergenvironment.com; Mark Williams at mwilliams@bloombergenvironment.com

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