The proposed site for David Beckham's new Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise, Inter Miami, has been closed "until further notice" by city officials following environmental analysis that revealed high levels of arsenic and other pollutants in the soil.
$1 billion dollar has been budgeted to redevelop Melreese Country Club and Golf Course into the home of the team's new 25,000 Freedom Park soccer stadium. The site would also house a shopping mall, office complex and 58-acre public park.
Those plans now appear to be on hold while further tests are carried out and the country club is temporarily shut until further notice.
"The purpose of this action is to allow outside experts to analyze the results of substantial new environmental testing conducted at the course. The golf course will be reopened pending a favorable analysis." Miami City Manager and Chief Administrative Officer Emilio Gonzalez said in a statement on social media.
Results from the latest round of testing was conducted by Miami based environmental company EE&G who were hired by Beckham's business partners Jorge and Jose Mas.
As recently as the beginning of this month, Jorge Mas was optimistic that construction on the Freedom Park site would begin in the "next 60 days," but grim warnings from city officials suggest a delay is likely.
"This is the largest contaminated park in the city's portfolio," said Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell said. "This is a concern."
Inter Miami's lawyers say they are still expecting to submit a 99-year lease proposal on September 12, and the terms would need the approval of four out of five City Commissioners. Speaking to the Miami Herald, Russell reiterated his promise that his office would not be seeking city dollars to pay for Melreese's cleanup.
Inter Miami are still due to join the MLS from 2020, and will play at an 18,000-seater stadium at a separate site in Fort Lauderdale until the proposed bigger development can be completed.