Miami Freedom Park vision moves forward with SAP application

Developers of Miami Freedom Park (MFP), the mixed-use site that is intended to be the permanent home of Major League Soccer (MLS) club Inter Miami, have submitted a Special Area Plan (SAP) application for the project in what they claim is an important milestone in bringing it to fruition.

The rezoning of 20.9 acres of the total 131 acres of the Melreese site for the project is needed in order to follow through on the vision for MFP, which 60% of Miami voters supported in a November 2018 referendum.

The plan for MFP includes a 58-acre public park, a 25,000-seat stadium, tech hub, hotel, shops and restaurants. The SAP for the $1bn (£796.8m/€889.9m) complex will allow developers to secure greater development capacity in exchange for public benefits on certain land holdings.

The Miami Herald notes that the SAP does not significantly change the initial vision for MFP, but outlines how dramatically the project would alter the existing park and surrounding neighbourhood, potentially leading to opposition.

The City of Miami and Inter are co-applicants on the SAP as Melreese, currently a golf course, is city-owned property. The two parties are negotiating the terms of a lease deal, a successful vote on which is not at all certain, according to the Herald.

Jorge Mas, managing owner of Inter Miami, said in a statement: “With the goal of following through on the will of Miami voters, we are submitting the Miami Freedom Park zoning application so it can be reviewed as we continue to advance lease agreement negotiations.

“This parallel path will allow us to more quickly bring the creation of one of the city’s largest public parks, the future home stadium of our MLS team, more than 15,000 jobs, and contributions of $42.7m in annual tax revenue, all at no cost to city taxpayers.”

Inter Miami launched its inaugural season earlier this year with two away games before MLS suspended its season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The club will restart its season in the closed-door MLS is Back Tournament at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando on July 8, before resuming games at its temporary facility, Inter Miami CF Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, when it is safe to do so.

In October, MLS commissioner Don Garber locked horns with Miami authorities over the process surrounding the delivery of the permanent stadium. Garber spoke out amid ongoing unease over securing a stadium for a franchise that was initially formed in 2014, before being ratified in January 2018.

Image: Inter Miami