Tag Archives: Miami Freedom Park

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.

Is the Miami Freedom Park That Different From Joe Robbie Stadium?

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.

There is a wide misconception that has grown through the years here in South Florida. It has been the gold standard to every stadium project when it’s time to discuss financing and acquisition. Those familiar with sports here in the Magic City know that I am already talking about Joe Robbie Stadium, now known as Hard Rock Stadium. South Florida idolizes Robbie for building it with his own money, however, lost in the story is the land acquisition deal. 

Magic City Soccer podcast Episode 57: The Quiet Storm of South Florida Soccer discusses MLS Miami and NPSL

Magic City Soccer podcast

It’s a late-night record for Omar and Matt on the Magic City Soccer Podcast, and they both practice their ASMR skills by discussing the proposed “Miami Freedom Park” by Fútbol Miami MLS as well as The Miami FC 2’s NPSL Sunshine Conference regular-season crown. The 2018 FIFA World Cup is also discussed, naturally. Join us, won’t you?

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

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All the non-stadium news from Jorge Mas’ Fútbol Miami MLS recent interviews

Fútbol Miami MLS co-owner Jorge Mas speaks during a celebration event at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami on Jan. 29, 2018. Photo via mlssoccer.com.

As is to be expected, there has been a lot of discussion about Miami Freedom Park, where Fútbol Miami MLS intends to build its stadium (with the approval of City of Miami voters in November). However, co-owner Jorge Mas has revealed a lot of other news related to the actual sport of soccer in the course of his interviews this weekend. And it appears a lot of pieces related to the team will be falling into place in weeks, rather than months or years.

Mas spoke to Will Manso of Local 10 WPLG on Sunday, and revealed a number of juicy tidbits:

  • First, the colors, shield and uniform could be released as early as the end of this month.
  • Second, the club has interviewed candidates for general manager and coach, and the GM position is expected to be filled by the end of next month.
  • Third, the team name will be released after colors, and it will not be Miami Freedom, as had been speculated in May. That name will be reserved for the development at Melreese. Michelle Kaufman of the Miami Herald reported last month that the two favored finalists appear to be Futbol Club Internacional de Miami (Inter Miami) and Futbol Club Atletico Miami (Atletico Miami).
  • Finally, and most critically, Mas reiterated the plan to kick off in March 2020, even though the proposed stadium won’t be ready until 2021. That means  the team will start in a temporary venue. Mas mentioned that there’s interest in “the other two large facilities in Dade County that can house our team,” referring to Hard Rock Stadium and Riccardo Silva Stadium.

Mas indicated the ownership group had an idea of the style it would like to play, and hopes to model Atlanta United as a club to develop players for the future.

Listen to Matt and Omar discuss the “Miami Freedom Park” plan on Magic City Soccer Episode 57!