Miami again has been sued over the proposed David Beckham soccer stadium.
The latest lawsuit is the second filed against the city by the same attorney in five days and at least the fourth over stadium plans.
This time the allegation is that the failure to specify a location for a 25,000-seat stadium and at least 1 million square feet of other new real estate development on the Melreese municipal golf course should kill talks between the developer and the city.
Attorney David Winker filed the lawsuit Tuesday night, following up on a Friday filing alleging the city didn’t enforce its own law to require Beckham, his soccer partners and attorneys to register as lobbyists before speaking for the project at a City Commission meeting last July.
Winker, who left Zumpano Patricios in Coral Gables where he was partner to start his own firm, said the city charter amendment approved by voters Nov. 6 authorizing the city to negotiate a 99-year lease with Miami Freedom Park LLC is too “vague and ambiguous” to allow a lease without competitive bidding.
The city said Winker’s argument misunderstands its regulations.
The lawsuit doesn’t “depict a clear understanding of our charter and codes. We hope to have a resolution through our court system soon,” City Attorney Victoria Mendez said in an emailed statement.
Generally, cities hold competitive bidding when selling or leasing their land, but in this case the voter-approved referendum waived that requirement. The City Commission would need to approve a lease by a four-fifths vote for the project to proceed.
The soccer stadium amendment specifies that Miami Freedom Park would develop on 73 acres at 1400 NW 37th Ave. and a public park on an adjacent 58 acres, according to the complaint.
The City Commission in July approved a resolution authorizing the referendum and specified two lots totaling 179 acres on Melreese are for the project. About 21 acres of that, however, are baseball fields and a water park would remain intact, according to Winker. But the charter amendment fails to specify exactly where the project and public park would be on the remaining acreage.
The amendment “is expressed in terms so vague that persons of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning,” according to the complaint.
The two-count lawsuit asks the court to declare the amendment vague and ambiguous or require construction on the larger 131-acre parcel, which would exclude the smaller 48-acre one. That, however, “could likely be fatal” to the plans because the bigger parcel is closer to Miami International Airport possibly precluding any high-rise buildings and access from Northwest 37th Avenue, Winker said.
Attorneys for Miami Freedom Park, which isn’t named as a defendant in either lawsuit, said both of Winker’s lawsuits are “meritless.”
“It is unclear what motivates Winker’s opposition, but we will not let a pattern of frivolous lawsuits and allegations stand in the way of bringing major league soccer to the city of Miami,” John Shubin, a Shubin & Bass founding partner, said by email.
Winker is both plaintiff and attorney in the two cases.
Attorney Douglas Muir sued the city and its top officials last July for leasing public land without competitive bidding. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Reemberto Diaz in August dismissed the case, and Muir has appealed.
The fourth lawsuit was filed in October by Bruce Matheson, who claimed the ballot language was misleading. General magistrate Elizabeth Schwabedissen on Nov. 27, 2018, recommended Miami Freedom Park’s motion to intervene as a defendant be granted.
Mendez, the city attorney, said this lawsuit, too, doesn’t “depict a clear understanding” of city regulations and the city hopes to resolve it through the court system as well.