More than four years after David Beckham first announced his intention to bring an MLS team to Miami -- and almost 10 months after he and his Miami partners, Jorge and Jose Mas
were formally introduced as owners of MLS's 25th team -- he was back on stage Tuesday night, celebrating a crucial victory.
Beckham and the Mas brothers received the blessing of Miami voters for their plan to turn a municipal golf course near Miami
International Airport, Melreese golf course, into Miami Freedom Park, a $1 billion development with a 25,000-seat stadium.
With 60 percent of the 100,000 votes cast, Miami voters gave the
city permission to negotiate a lease of the land for the 73-acre redevelopment. The Beckham group would also fund public park next to the development.
Miami mayor Francis Suarez
joined Beckham and his partners at a celebration in Coral Gables and said the rent the city will get is fair market value and the project will be privately funded.
“I mean," Suarez
said, "it could not be a better deal for the residents of the city of Miami.“
The voter approval comes after Beckham's group failed in bids to secure stadium sites in three other
parts of Miami and then when it found a site, in the Overtown neighborhood, the Mas brothers, who only arrived on the scene last year, got cold feet about the project.
In the run-up to
election day, Jorge Mas said there is no Plan B -- and the group wouldn't reconsider abandoning the Overtown site if the measure lost. Beckham spent Tuesday greeting voters at locations around Miami.
"We haven't just proved to Miami today," he said on Tuesday night, "we've proved to the world that persistence, patience makes things happen. We're going to bring a championship-winning
Inter Miami CF is slated to begin play in MLS in 2020 at a temporary home. It has already hired heads on the business side (Jurgen Mainka) and technical side (Paul
-- Also in Miami, former U.S. Soccer board member Donna Shalala became at 77 the second-oldest person elected to the House of Representatives for the first
time when she won the seat vacated by retiring Republican, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
Shalala, who beat Republican TV journalist Maria Elvira Salazar, is the former Health and
Human Services Secretary, president of the University of Miami and chairperson of the Clinton Foundation.