Two Stadium Sites, Two Lawsuits, Two Appeals: David Beckham’s Quest for MLS in Miami

It’s been a while since we checked in with David Beckham and his interminable goal of finally getting his MLS franchise online in time for a 2020 start. Most recently everyone has been debating the release of his team name and logo (for the record: like the badge; the name not so much).

Being who I am, it’s not logos and branding which gets me excited. It’s motions and lawsuits and city council votes. Yes, I know it’s a curse and that I’m likely to perish covering the vote to build Cloud City United FC a floating soccer stadium, but I’ve accepted my fate.

Disturbing death premonitions aside, we still have some legal action going on with both stadium sites, so this seems like a good time to get caught up.

OVERTOWN:

Ah, the site that Beckham never wanted and couldn’t wait to leave. Beckham’s group secured this site in June 2017, and was almost immediately sued by local citizen Bruce Matheson. Beckham’s group won the initial legal battle, getting the case dismissed. But Matheson appealed, and the parties had oral arguments on June 4, 2018. And…that’s where we currently stand on the issue. I watched the oral arguments, and I’m still pretty confident that Beckham and MLS will win. Of course, that likely just means that Matheson will appeal to the Florida Supreme Court once he exhausts the remedies at the appellate level.

The other issue is that we have no idea when this decision is going to come down. It’s now been over two months, which seems a bit long for a case like this, but I’m not an attorney down there, so my frame of reference is limited. Hopefully we’ll get a ruling here soon, even if this site is only a backup to the big enchilada. Speaking of which…

MELREESE:

Once David Beckham brought the Mas brothers on board, they almost immediately junked the Overtown site and went big, targeting the Melreese golf course for a massive development. After some initial…problems, Beckham got the approval he needed to have the City move the proposal to a vote in November to amend the City Charter to allow the City to negotiate a lease for the property with Beckham’s group. As it is usually with these things, a lawsuit was filed by Douglas Muir, alleging the City of Miami failed to follow proper procedures, and the process lacked transparency.

I’ll say this: Beckham’s luck with lawyers is significantly better than his luck dealing with local municipalities, because much like the Overtown lawsuit, this case was dismissed with prejudice in pretty convincing fashion. Just a few sections from the order dismissing the lawsuit.

Screen Shot 2018-09-07 at 7.38.21 AM

This is pretty straight-forward, I think. Muir couldn’t even get in the door here, because the “injury” he was alleging was more of an abstraction. As the Court noted, it may have been different if he was trying to develop the property on his own, as was being shut out by the City from making a bid. On the issue of transparency:

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Now, much of the negotiation went on behind closed doors. However, a fair amount of it didn’t. There were on-the-record negotiations during both meetings, the term sheets were released prior to the hearings (though not much before), and the public (including Mr. Muir) was allowed to comment on the proposal. So, it may not have been the most transparent process in world, but the Court determined it was sufficient.

So, the case was dismissed. Mr. Muir filed for a re-hearing, but that was denied as well.

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So having exhausted all of his options at the trial court level, we now move on to an appeal.

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I’ve previously written about the procedural process for an appeal in Miami. If Mr. Muir uses all of the time available to him, this appeal would take likely take six months to get to an oral argument, give or take a month. As noted above, the ruling on the appeal could take two months or more.

Some of this may be mooted by the fact that 1) The November vote could fail, or 2) If the vote passes, Beckham and the City still have to come up with a lease agreement, and that agreement requires four of the five council members to vote for it. Unfortunately for Beckham’s group, the vote to send it to the voters in November only passed with three votes, and the “no” votes were adamantly against it. So they have an uphill climb to get Melreese off the ground, notwithstanding the lawsuit. But as tends to be the case, these stadium development deals get fought on multiple fronts.

 

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