MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Former Miami Marlins President David Samson has joined forces with Miami activist and film maker Billy Corben on the on-going Inter Miami CF stadium controversy.
“This is a billion dollar heist happening in broad daylight,” says Samson on a 2-minute video released by Corben.
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The duo is slamming the proposed Inter Miami CF Soccer Stadium and Freedom Park deal with the City of Miami and Samson is using his own experience security a deal for the Marlins ballpark as ammo.
“The City of Miami wants to give billionaire Jorge Mas, David Beckham, and their Inter Miami soccer team a 99-year no bid lease, below market value on 131 acres of parkland at Melreese,” Samson says on the video.
“It’s a real estate play,” he told CBS4 News. “And as long as people know that’s what it is then you can go ahead and decide if you want to support it or not,” he said.
You may remember Samson from years ago when he pushed a deal to build loanDepot park for the Miami Marlins.
The county sold $500 million in bonds to get the park built. It will take decades to repay the bonds and interest.
In the case of Inter Miami CF, it would be a no-bid lease deal, negotiated between the city and the soccer club.
“This is the biggest boondoggle in Miami history. The Melreese give-a-way is so bad, it would make the Marlin’s Stadium deal look good,” Samson says in the video.
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Miami Commissioner Manolo Reyes is against the deal as it is, saying three law firms hired by the city found 28 issues with it.
“My position was from the beginning that we should have opened this for bid if we wanted to do something with that land,” Reyes said.
He said if numerous issues were addressed and this went to competitive bidding, the city could take in more money. “The more money that comes to our coffers, comes to the general fund, the less need we have to raise taxes. The more money we have to improve the quality of life of our residents,” he said.
Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla slammed Samson and Corben saying in a statement, “Billy Corben and David Samson are the first ones lying and cheating our residents. One of them profits off of libel and defamation and the other is a thief who profits off of stealing taxpayer money from our residents to line his pockets. Everyone knows who these bad actors are, and nobody believes a word they say. I have always and will always negotiate what is best for Miamians and my history proves just that,” he said.
Samson said he’s doing it to make sure residents know what’s at stake.
“My view of the Inter Miami deal, if you want to be in favor of it, at least understand what it is,” Samson said.
CBS4 News reached out to Miami Mayor Francis Suarez. He’s a big cheerleader of the project. He declined our request for an interview. CBS4 News also reached out to Inter Miami CF for comment and have not heard back.
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The Miami City Commission is scheduled to debate and vote on the issue April 28th.