Tag Archives: City of Miami

City of Miami commission approves Miami Freedom Park ballot initiative

City of Miami commission chairman Keon Hardeman bangs his gavel as the commission grants approval to a ballot initiative on the November general election ballot related to Miami Freedom Park and Soccer Village. The commission meets in chambers at Miami City Hall in Coconut Grove on July 18, 2018. Photo by Matthew Bunch.

The City of Miami commission has voted to allow a ballot initiative in support of Miami Freedom Park and Soccer Village to appear on the city’s general election ballot on Nov. 6. The vote was 3-2. Commissioners Keon Hardemon, Joe Carollo and (critically) Ken Russell voted in support. Commissioners Manolo Reyes and Willy Gort voted against.

The day appeared to start where last Thursday’s meeting left off, with commissioners airing their grievances with the deal. The two most prominent voices in the morning were those of Reyes and Carollo.

Reyes, who was vehemently against the deal, claimed that the process was illegal. He introduced two measures that sought to end discussion on the initative. He also offered a new initiative, which would open up the Melreese property to a competitive bidding process. This met immediate resistance, specifically from city mayor Francis Suarez.

“This particular ballot language is misleading,” Suarez told the commission. “I also believe it’s out of order.”

Suarez’s point, which was confirmed by the city’s attorney Victoria Mendez, meant the initiative would not receive full discussion. Mendez also confirmed the legality of the initial initiative effort.

Joe vs. the Golf Course

Carollo’s issues were twofold, and neither were directed specifically at Fútbol Miami MLS. First, Carollo seemed to allege that the current operators of Melreese Golf Course, Delucca Enterprises Inc., were not being upfront with the commission about the types of businesses run from the golf course. Carollo cited 10 profit or nonprofit entities that list the golf course’s address as their place of operation.

“I’m going to tell you my main responsibility are to those kids in the City of Miami, Little Havana, in Allapattah, in Overtown, in Liberty City, in Wynwood, in Flagami, in Little Haiti,” Carollo said, “that don’t have any of these benefits and don’t have no Charlies [Charlie DeLucca operates the Melreese Golf Course] putting them in orange shirts and parading them around.”

Jorge Mas speaks to Magic City Soccer after Fútbol Miami MLS’s big win in front of the City of Miami commission.

After approximately 20 minutes of Carollo seeming to prosecute the golf course and its operator, Russell sought to bring attention back to the Term Sheet that had been negotiated by the city and Fútbol Miami MLS until 2 a.m. the night before. Going through each point, Russell highlighted where the city had extracted concessions from Mas and team ownership.

The biggest points seemed to be related to park construction, land remediation and the living wage.

As for the park, questions came from the dais related to the construction of a 58-acre park at the property and what the city’s financial responsibility would be. MFP confirmed the plan is for the ownership group to create a finished park with grass and trees, and then will provide the city $20 million on top of that to use if it wants to make changes or additions later.

Jorge Mas echoed a sentiment he shared with the Miami Herald on Monday, when he stated the Miami Freedom Park group would cover all land cleanup and remediation costs. Mas additionally shared that he is “extremely confident” the cost of remediation would be “significantly lower” than the $35 million that has been budgeted. Reyes disagreed with his assessment.

Living with a Living Wage

The last, and what was believed to be most contentious, issue was the living wage. On Thursday, Russell insisted that all workers at the property be guaranteed at least $15 an hour. At the time, the Miami Freedom Park group could not guarantee that. That changed on Wednesday, however. Mas stated that all employees and contractors with Fútbol Miami MLS would guarantee $15 an hour from the jump, which was not surprising. What Mas proposed for all other vendors at the property is an escalator. In the first year, the guaranteed wage would start at $11 an hour. Over the next four years, it would rise $1 an hour per year to eventually arrive at $15 per hour. That seemed to be good enough for Russell.

City of Miami commissioner Ken Russell speaks to Magic City Soccer after casting the deciding vote to allow Fútbol Miami MLS’s project, Miami Freedom Park and Soccer Village, to go to the November ballot.

After Mas’ team walked through the living wage language, it appeared Russell was convinced.

After a lunch break and an opportunity for any final questions, the vote was cast. Miami Freedom Park was on its way to the November ballot.

“It’s a win for our fans, and a win for our community,” Mas told Magic City Soccer after the vote. “And our next step is to continue progressing, to show the residents of the City of Miami the benefits of this project, continue to work hard to win their trust and support for the referendum in November, and at the same time turn this page and this chapter and start building a soccer franchise.”

Term Sheet for Miami Freedom Park made public before City of Miami commission meeting

Just hours before the start of the City of Miami commission meeting that could potentially decide the deal’s fate, the Term Sheet that establishes the proposal between the ownership group and the city regarding Miami Freedom Park and Soccer Village was made public.

First shared by local columnist Grant Stern, the three-page term sheet covers a number of issues, some dealing in terms already established and some touching on concerns that commissioners shared last week.

The best of the Miami Herald’s interview with Fútbol Miami MLS co-owner Jorge Mas and Miami mayor Francis Suarez

Fútbol Miami MLS co-owner Jorge Mas, left, and Miami mayor Francis Suarez appear in front of the Miami Herald's editorial board on Monday. Screengrab via the Miami Herald's live stream.

On Monday, in advance of Fútbol Miami MLS appearing in front of the City of Miami’s commission for the second time in a week on Wednesday, co-owner Jorge Mas and Mayor Francis Suarez were grilled by the Miami Herald’s editorial board for an hour, facing a series of questions about the proposed development at Melreese Country Club.

Magic City Soccer Episode 59: NPSL Sunshine Conference champions and a hold on Fútbol Miami MLS

Magic City Soccer podcast

Matt and Omar tackle Miami soccer on and off the field in this episode of Magic City Soccer, as the vote for Fútbol Miami MLS’ Melreese plan is delayed a week, and The Miami FC 2 defeats Jacksonville Armada FC to claim the NPSL’s Sunshine Conference crown. We also give a brief wrap-up of a wonderful World Cup. Join us, won’t you?

Thanks to our sponsor, Groundhopper, for helping to make this Magic City Soccer episode happen!

To subscribe to Magic City Soccer on iTunes, click here. To subscribe to Magic City Soccer on SoundCloud, click here.
To subscribe on Google Play, Listen on Google Play Music

Fútbol Miami MLS releases stadium renderings, seeks to build momentum for Thursday meeting with City of Miami commissioners

Fútbol Miami MLS will be presenting its vision for "Miami Freedom Park," the home of the future Major League Soccer stadium in Miami alongside other development, to the public on Thursday. Image provided by Jorge Mas via Twitter.

It’s hard to imagine a time where Fútbol Miami MLS might be “done” with the preparation stage. For years, Miami fans eagerly awaiting a Major League Soccer team to support have awaited a finish line. However, developments over the last week may indicate that Thursday’s meeting with the City of Miami’s commissioners may signal the beginning of the end (or, at least, the end of the beginning).