Miami, Apr 29 (EFE).- Inter Miami CF’s fans, led by co-owner and founder David Beckham, were in celebration mode on Friday after Miami commissioners approved a project that will entail the construction of a stadium for that Major League Soccer franchise in that South Florida metropolis.
The 4-1 vote Thursday night brought an end to a nearly decade-old battle that had pitted the club’s CEO and managing owner, Jorge Mas; his brother and co-owner Jose Mas; and co-owner Beckham against local authorities.
The former captain of England’s national soccer team took to Instagram to celebrate the achievement of that long-sought dream and the fact that Inter Miami’s home games will be played in its namesake city and not in its current venue in Fort Lauderdale.
“I want to thank Jorge & Jose Mas and the whole Mas family for believing in my dream and making it a REALITY,” Beckham wrote in a celebratory message.
Beckham first announced his intention to buy an MLS franchise in 2014 for the deeply discounted price of $25 million, an option that was part of the contract he signed as a player with the LA Galaxy in 2007.
But it has been an uphill climb since then for the former Real Madrid and Manchester United superstar and his co-owners, with local authorities rejecting several of their proposals for building a stadium near the Port of Miami, located in the heart of the city.
The latest plan was very different though. The future Miami Freedom Park will be located near the airport and comprise a roughly 25,000-seat stadium, a shopping center, offices and a hotel with 750 guest rooms.
Jorge Mas, who heads an investment group that now has a majority stake in Spanish soccer club Real Zaragoza, was elated at the news of the commissioners’ backing for the project.
He said he was thrilled at the chance to transform the grounds of the Miami Freedom Park into “the capital of US soccer.”
The no-bid deal the commissioners approved on Thursday includes a 99-year lease for around 73 acres (30 hectares) of public land. The project also includes plans to renovate the existing Melreese golf course at the site and turn it into a 58-acre public park.
Under the terms of the accord, Inter Miami’s owners will have to pay a minimum annual base rent of $4.3 million once the stadium is open.
“I am grateful to the people of the city of Miami for trusting us to negotiate what I believe is the best sports deal in the history of this country,” Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, a long-time champion of the project, told reporters after the commissioners’ vote. EFE