Four years ago, David Beckham and his partners (Inter Miami) came to Florida wanting to build a brand-new soccer stadium. They asked the city of Fort Lauderdale for $170 million in taxpayer money and also received a “50-year, rent-free lease of city-owned land”. The city, however, wanted something in return, so Inter Miami agreed to build a “sprawling park with a playground, dog park, walking trail, fitness area, yoga lawn, sports field, kickball zone and open green space”. In fact, they promised to have this public park done by at the latest July 2022.
After the contracts were signed, Inter Miami built the stadium within two years, which is very fast. What about that park that they contractually agreed to build? About that…..the city decided to give Inter Miami more time and gave them until July 2023 to finish the project. Except as of today, there is no work being done. Why? Well, when a local commissioner went to Inter Miami to see what the problem was, he was told that the city needed to pony up some additional money for the park:
“Inter Miami now wants taxpayers to cover $6 million in demolition costs and another $1.3 million in building permits, Herbst told his colleagues during a recent City Hall meeting.”– Sun Sentinel
Except, the agreement between the city and Inter Miami says nothing whatsoever about the city paying for demolition costs or building permits. The local commissioner also made the point that Inter Miami has been using the public park area for overflow parking during game-days. As one former commissioner noted, this is why the public park is not being built.
“Right now Inter Miami is trying to figure out where patrons can park if they close down the 20-acre site they’re using for parking,” Moraitis said. “That’s the issue. That’s what the issue’s always been. And they just tap dance around it.”– Sun Sentinel
Then, why would Inter Miami believe that the city should now pay for it when the contract says nothing about those costs? Well, according to Inter Miami officials, “certain agreements were made during negotiations in 2019, but not all made it into the written contract”. Wait, what? Are these super secret negotiations? Why would Inter Miami talk about this with the city and NOT put it into the agreement? Additionally, the mayor had no idea about this secret agreement. Therefore, isn’t it a bit laughable that Inter Miami would rely on this so-called verbal promise? Let’s remind everyone of the way that this project was told to the public when Inter Miami was trying to get city approval:
“Due to the lease terms being below market value and the plan turning that publicly owned land into commercial property, the plan was met with opposition even though the entire project will be privately funded.“– CBS Sports
As of this week, the city is being forced into mediation with Inter Miami to figure out a solution. Good luck. Hopefully, there aren’t any more super secret verbal agreements that come out of it.