Several weeks ago, I wrote a story about how Inter Miami had simply not fulfilled their side of an agreement with the city in exchange for the city helping financially with a new stadium. The stadium was built yet today, there is no public park. A park that was supposed to be built by the end of 2022 at the latest and would include a “sprawling park with a playground, dog park, walking trail, fitness area, yoga lawn, sports field, kickball zone and open green space”.
The agreement is rather clear about the team needing to build the park, yet Inter Miami has tried various ways to get out of this part of the agreement. At one time, the team told the city that they wanted $6 million more in taxpayer money to help build the public park. Another time, the team claimed that they had a super-secret deal with the previous city administration that didn’t make it into the final agreement, but was still valid in the team’s mind. This super-secret deal forced the city to financially help Inter Miami build this park. Meanwhile, the empty land has been used by the team for parking during game days. Not only has the team not built what was promised, but they are also financially benefitting from it being empty.
Fast-forward to today, and I want to give the city of Fort Lauderdale a standing ovation for what they are doing. Last year, the city gave the team until July 2023 to build the park. This deadline came and went recently. As the Sun-Sentinel wrote this week, the agreement between the city and team includes a clause that states if the team doesn’t build the park, the city can build it and bill the team. Guess what? That is what they are doing.
What if the team takes the city to court?
“So be it, says Commissioner John Herbst, whose district includes the stadium…We’ll build the park and submit them with a bill before construction begins…If they refuse to pay, we’d sue them for the amount we’re owed, plus attorneys’ fees” – Sun Sentinel, 06/17/23
Now, the city is getting ready to build a new $25 million park that will cost the team $13 million dollars (the city pays the rest) and should open by 2025. The park will include new fields for all sorts of sports and even a dog area. In addition, the city has now stopped the team from using the land for parking. The team was given a chance to pay the $1.4 million dollars in overdue building permit fees, but nothing was given, and the bills remain unpaid.
Keep in mind that this is the same owner who has already been caught cheating by the MLS for under-reporting wages to foreign players. Yeah, that sounds like someone who will follow through.