Aug 3, 2023 - News

Votes coming for Argentine soccer complex in North Bay Village

A soccer complex could rise on land behind Treasure Island Elementary School. Image: Courtesy of North Bay Village

The Argentine Football Association (AFA) proposed building and managing a headquarters and soccer complex on public land in North Bay Village two years ago — and crucial votes will take place in coming weeks.

Why it matters: North Bay Village is a densely built and fast-growing municipality on three man-made islands, and the soccer complex would use its most significant green space.

  • Argentine newspaper La Nacion reported that the proposed soccer project and Lionel Messi's signing with Inter Miami are drawing Argentines to North Bay Village.

Catch up quick: The AFA proposed building soccer fields, padel courts, a new recreation center, offices and a police station on land behind Treasure Island Elementary School that's owned by the village and Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

  • Currently, there's a utility building and truck parking on the site.
  • The AFA would run youth soccer training, and Argentina's national team would train there occasionally — possibly when Miami hosts part of the 2026 World Cup.
  • The AFA wants to open academies throughout the U.S.

Details: Under the proposal, the land would remain public while the AFA would pay $97.5 million over 30 years to build on it and maintain the property.

What we're watching: North Bay Village Mayor Brent Latham tells Axios an agreement with the school board will give the village the authority to construct and operate the facilities on the land.

  • Terms should be finalized by the end of this month, posted on the Miami-Dade County Public Schools Board's agenda and then voted on by the board on Sept. 6, he says.
  • The North Bay Village Commission would then vote in mid-September on adopting those terms.

What's next: North Bay Village has a separate agreement with the Argentine Football Association to fund construction of the facilities and operate them.

  • Soccer fields could potentially be built by next summer, but the building would take longer.

Context: About 3,000 condos and apartments are under development in North Bay Village.

  • Last year, North Bay Village changed its zoning laws to accommodate developer Sunbeam Properties' plan for 8 to 10 mixed-use towers up to 65 stories in height along the 79th Street Causeway.

What they're saying: "If all of the buildings that have been proposed were to be built, the city would double in population over the next 5 to 10 years," Latham says.

  • The city and AFA would be able to use the facilities only when not needed by the school.
  • "We are creating athletic facilities where there are none," Latham says.

The other side: Critics have complained about potential traffic and travel by Latham — who formerly worked for FIFA, soccer's governing body — to negotiate the deal.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to remove an earnings estimate that was incorrectly attributed to AFA when it was made by NBC6 and has been disputed by a North Bay Village spokesperson.

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