David Beckham and the city of Miami are getting closer to a possible 60-year, $51 million deal that would pave the way for a Little Havana soccer stadium next to Marlins Park, according to city officials and a draft stadium operating agreement obtained by the Miami Herald.
Under the terms of the agreement, Miami Beckham United or a wholly owned subsidiary would be allowed to build a 30,000-seat stadium on about 10.5 acres of land currently owned primarily by the city. Presuming Beckham's group follows through with plans to purchase private property located on parts of the proposed stadium site, he and his partners would pay the city a "management fee" of $850,000 a year over an initial term of 60 years, and potentially two additional 20-year terms at the team's option.
Half of the fee could be paid by a foundation associated with the team's ownership, and would be used to promote "youth education and athletics," and to "construct, operate and maintain soccer facilities within the city," according to the document.
The city, in exchange, would spare Miami Beckham United from paying annual property taxes by deeding 6.5 acres of its land and vacated streets to Miami-Dade County, or -- in a new, politically intriguing possibility -- the Miami-Dade School Board, both of which have tax-exempt status.
A Miami City Commission vote on a stadium deal could take place as early as December, paving the way for a public referendum in March. But several city officials involved in negotiations said they are still working on details.
"We still have to finalize these things," said City Manager Daniel Alfonso.
Miami Beckham United declined to comment through a spokesman late Tuesday night.
The proposed agreement, dated Oct. 2 but received by the city only Friday, holds the team responsible for the cost of stadium construction, and requires the team's ownership to invest in capital improvements at least once every decade.
Beckham's investment group has repeatedly stated that it will privately finance the stadium's construction and will not seek public subsidies. But the operating agreement distributed to commissioners late Monday does consider the possibility that ownership might seek tax credits, business incentives and tax-exempt financing. The management fee, which Alfonso said the city considers payment for its land, comes out to about $20 million in present day value when factoring in annual 3.8 percent inflation, he said.
One possible aspect of the deal not detailed in the draft agreement presented to commissioners is that instead of transferring its land to Miami-Dade County, as has always been considered, the city might instead give the land to the school board.
Superintendent Alberto Carvalho did not return a call to his cell phone. Alfonso confirmed the team's potential partnership with the school board, saying he was told about it Tuesday. He said the team and school board may be considering relationships between the team and schools, but noted that the city is not involved in those discussions.
"The team is looking at it as a synergy with schools that allow for benefits to go to the schools," Alfonso said he was told. "And it's public relations."
The Miami Marlins, for instance, have ties with SLAM Academy, a popular charter school operated by Academica. Several district schools also have a partnership with the Miami Heat.
The school board's potential involvement adds a political wrinkle to the negotiations. School Board Member Raquel Regalado, the daughter of Miami's mayor, is campaigning against Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimemez to win the county mayor's seat in the 2016 election.