Two stories I’d like to write about in the future are: 1) The suit filed by Riccardo Silva (owner of Miami FC which plays in the on-hiatus NASL) and Dennis Crowley (owner of the Kingston Stockade in the NPSL), as well as, 2) The various legal issues, which have been a thorn in the side of David Beckham’s interminable MLS-to-Miami project. These issues have nothing to do with each other, except that it probably highlights Silva’s…distaste with how MLS runs its business.
I’m still getting up to speed on the Silva/Crowley appeal before the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but the long and short of that case is that they’re attempting to require that FIFA/CONCACAF/USSF comply with the FIFA statutes, (specifically Article 9) which they say mandate the implementation of Promotion and Relegation. As I said, I’m still researching these issues, so I think I’ll save that story for another day.
Which brings us to Mr. Beckham (Miami Beckham United), who has been trying to get a MLS team in Miami for nearly half a decade. He was finally officially awarded a team earlier this year, but the issues with getting a stadium still linger. So what’s going on? A history (an updated story I wrote previously):
1. The Background:
On June 6, 2017, MBU formally agreed to purchase land in Overtown, which would complete the land acquisition necessary to build a stadium. However, on July 21 2017, Bruce Matheson filed suit to block the sale, essentially saying the County’s “no-bid” process was improper.
2. MATHESON’S COMPLAINT:
You can read it here. It alleged quite a few things of course; the main thing being that he was prepared to purchase the land at the same market value MBU did, and as such the “no-bid” process was improper. This was among other issues.
3. MIAMI BECKHAM UNITED/PROPERTIES:
MBU filed a Motion to Intervene on August 7 2017. As they are a party to the contract, they obviously needed to be included in the lawsuit. Their motion was granted on August 13. Now, with all of the preliminary stuff out of the way…
4. THE STAKES:
From MBU/MDC/MLS perspective, they wanted this case dismissed. If Matheson gets the relief he’s asking for, it would at minimum delay the case, as MBU/MDC would have surely appealed. Worst case, the contract gets vacated and the land gets opened up for bidding to the person who pays the most. Beckham then loses out on the stadium (and maybe MLS takes back the award of the bid?) and all expansion hell breaks loose. If MBU/MDC won, the matter would be dismissed, allowing them to close on the site and begin construction, subject to appeal by Matheson (we’ll get to that later).
On August 11 2017, Miami Dade-County filed a motion to dismiss. It was a legalistic argument, the long and short of which is that Matheson doesn’t have the legal right to force a competitive bidding process (and he doesn’t have the means to participate in it anyway), and that this whole thing is basically another way to challenge the fact that a stadium is being built at all.
On September 1 2017, MBU filed a similar motion to dismiss, arguing some of the same issues and adding that were Matheson able to purchase the land, he couldn’t provide the infamous “additional economic benefits” (stadium jobs, local jobs related to the stadium) that MBU can.
On September 21 2017, MBU filed a motion for summary judgment in this case. You can read about summary judgment here. Basically it means, even if the court takes the plaintiff’s (or defendant for that matter) argument at face value, there is no case as matter of law.
A good way to look at it is if you (reader) and I are strangers walking towards each other on a crowded street. I brush up against your shoulder as we pass. You claim I assaulted you and file a suit for damages. We both stipulate the facts in the case (I did in fact brush up against your shoulder). The court applies the law of assault and dismisses (lack of intent, no injury).
6. THE RULING
The motion to dismiss was heard on October 11, 2017. And…it was a bloodbath. The court found for MBU/MDC on basically every issue. The Court basically found that Matheson didn’t have the standing to compel an open bidding process, and even if he did, he didn’t have the means to fulfill the terms of the contract (building a stadium).
7. THE APPEAL
Matheson subsequently appealed the decision, the outcome of which we are still waiting for. My current estimate for a ruling on the case is mid-late August 2018. There is not currently anything preventing MBU from beginning construction, subject to zoning/permitting and the like. However, it appears that the suit, and the general concerns about the Overton site, are taking its toll on MBU, as the are (again!) looking at other sites. In any case, I am hoping to get a copy of the appeal filed by Matheson, so I can do some further analysis and determine if he’ll have any better luck on appeal than he had at the lower court level. As of right now, I’m still skeptical of Matheson’s chances.