Beckham's MLS club gets stadium boost in court

Inter Miami CF has scored another legal victory, one that could provide an alternative site for the team's plans to build a stadium in the city of Miami.

The Florida Supreme Court declined on Friday to hear an appeal from local property owner Bruce Matheson, who filed suit back in 2017 on the grounds that Miami-Dade's sale to David Beckham and his business partners of a 2.79-acre parcel of land in the city's Overtown section should have been opened up to competitive bidding. Matheson lost the initial trial in October of 2017, but he persisted with multiple appeals. He went to the Florida Supreme Court last year after the 3rd District Court of Appeals denied his attempt to halt the sale.

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There was no immediate comment from Inter Miami about the ruling.

The land was acquired by Miami Properties LLC -- an entity controlled by Beckham and his partners -- for $9.015 million. The acquisition was the last piece needed to comprise a nine-acre parcel needed to build a soccer stadium.

Since that purchase, Inter Miami's ownership group has undergone considerable changes, with MasTec executives Jorge and Jose Mas, along with SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son joining Beckham and Sprint executive chairman Marcelo Claure. Once the Mas brothers came on board, Inter Miami's focus on a stadium location shifted from the Overtown property to a site at the Melreese Country Club.

Voters approved a referendum last November authorizing the City of Miami to enter negotiations on a 99-year lease that would allow Inter Miami to build a 25,000-seat stadium on the Melreese site, as well as at least 750 hotel rooms and a minimum of 1 million square feet of office, retail and commercial space. Owners also agreed to fund a 58-acre public park next to the complex.

According to the City of Miami's web site, the city commission is scheduled to select third-party consultants to help with the negotiations on May 23. Once those consultants are determined, negotiations can officially begin.

In March, the Miami City Commissioners approved a resolution stating that lease negotiations must be completed by Sept. 16. Approval of the lease from four of the five commissioners is needed for the deal to go through.

The latest court victory gives Inter Miami an alternative should an agreement on the Melreese site not be reached, but it will need to act quickly. According to the Miami Herald, Inter Miami has a week to make the next required payment of $901,500 on the land, a deadline that had been extended while the litigation with Matheson was ongoing.

Inter Miami FC recently secured approval to begin construction of a stadium in Ft. Lauderdale that will serve as the team's temporary home for at least two years. The venue, to be built on the site of Lockhart Stadium, recently survived a legal challenge of its own. The stadium is expected to be completed in time for the 2020 MLS season, Inter Miami's first in the league.