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City Accepting Bids for Demolition of Homestead Sports Complex

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Posted: Friday, June 1, 2018 12:30 am

After building the Homestead Sports Complex in 1991 to provide a spring training facility for the Cleveland Indians only to have Hurricane Andrew derail their plans and an inability to find a stable tenant since, for the first time, the City of Homestead is looking to acquire bids for demolition.

“It was a field of dreams that never came true,” said Homestead director of parks and recreation Dennis Maytan.

The city conducted a feasibility study to determine the highest and best use options (office, flex/warehouse/industrial, retail, residential, specialty attraction, soccer complex, passive park/open space, and amphitheater) based on the following factors: legally permissible, physically possible, financially feasible, market supported, highest value, impact on city budget, intangibles, and implication.

Based on the study, the city was presented with six options---five of which include the demolition of the stadium, estimated to cost $850,000, and the other being status quo, which assumes an annual $500,000 cost to maintain the existing building, not including a looming $1.5 million cost to repair the roof due to damage sustained from Hurricane Irma last year.

The first two options are for the sale of the site consisting of 89 acres of developable land. According to the feasibility study, these options have a net present value net operating position over five years with a five-percent discount rate of $17.6-17.8 million depending on whether it will be one transaction or three over the five years. A sale would require zoning changes with the state and city council since the area has been zoned for a baseball facility.

The third option is maintain ownership and reinvest in recreation with the development in a four-field soccer complex featuring new synthetic turf fields with lighting. Capital costs are estimated at $5.6 million for the construction of the facility. The net annual operating position is $360,000 after the first year.

The fourth option is to maintain the existing recreational facilities including the eight baseball fields. This option has a net annual operating position of $435,000.

The fifth option is to maintain the relocate the parks and recreation department to the minor league clubhouse, which assumes an incremental cost of $50,000 per year for marginal costs associated with O&M for the smaller building putting the net annual operating position at $385,000.

The sixth option is the only one, which will not require demotion of the stadium, and it has a net annual operation position of minus-$565,000.

Once demotion bids have been received, they will be presented to City Council, which will make a determination on the next step. No further bids will be accepted after June 26 at 2 p.m. at the City Clerk’s office.

The Homestead Sports Complex was expected to have a different fate when the $22 million facility was built. The Cleveland Indians were set to begin play at the stadium in 1993, but the stadium was in direct path of Hurricane Andrew six months prior forcing the Indians to find a different location while exercising an out clause in the contract.

The stadium was reconstructed to be ready to bring in another team for spring training in 1994 to no avail as the stadium became outdated and too far for teams to travel with many spring training homes on the Gulf Coast.

“The city did everything it could to try to bring it back, but baseball here is not where people want to come,” Maytan said.

There have been multiple efforts over the years to find a suitable tenant. They appeared to have a breakthrough when there was a lease agreement between La Ley Sports in 2011. However, after two years of use for youth baseball and softball tournaments, the city of Homestead terminated the lease and filed a lawsuit to evict the company for failure to pay the city over $350,000.

Over the years, the city has also explored options with the Miami Marlins, University of Miami, and Florida International University. Retired Major League Baseball players have examined the stadium for potential use such as a training camp.

“It just never worked out,” Maytan said. “As a parks director you want to see things grow and come true, but it just wasn’t there.”

Maytan and his staff also reached out to David Beckham’s group twice in their search for a viable stadium option for his desire to bring an expansion Major League Soccer team to South Florida.

“We thought, ‘Hey listen we have the stadium right here,’” Maytan said. “He didn’t have to go through what he’s going through now with the county and Miami to try to get land, and we’ve got a stadium here so why don’t you come here and they told us it was too far south.”

In 2015, the Homestead Sports Complex was used as a temporary office for the Homestead Police Department while their previous facility had mold and high radon gas levels.

Today, the complex is empty. Once a pristine baseball facility to seat 6,500 fans with a 200-bed dormitory, the field is unkempt as grass grows freely, large puddles form in the infield dirt, weeds have emerged in the seats, and parts of the roof are left dangling.

“We tried everything we could to amp it up and bring something there, but it just didn’t work out,” Maytan said. “I guess I could sum it up that it was a field of dreams that the city had and it just didn’t work out for us.”

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