Whether or not the David Beckham stadium financing proposal for an MLS team is a good deal for the county remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: it’s not the typical Major League Soccer arrangement.
Beckham and his fellow investors are proposing a privately financed 25,000-seat stadium on Port of Miami land near the cruise-ship terminals and American Airlines Arena, land controlled by Miami-Dade County. The site is also being sought for development by others — most notably, Royal Caribbean, which wants to create an entertainment district on the 35-acre site — but a large county subsidy isn’t on the agenda.
Out of the 12 stadiums built for MLS teams, two were privately financed: StubHub Center in Los Angeles and Columbus Crew Stadium. Both were built without the burden of land costs thanks to nonprofit partners, and both are profitable, reports the Miami Herald:
Last year, California State University-Dominguez Hills, home to the StubHub Center where the LA Galaxy and Chivas USA teams play, received just under $800,000 in rent and shared profits from the 88-acre stadium and sports complex, according to the university. That’s about $9,100 an acre.
For comparison, consider that in 2013, administrators for the state-owned fairgrounds in Ohio, which houses the Columbus Crew Stadium, said they took in about $335,000 from the 15-acre facility — about $22,300 an acre.
Now, comparisons based on profit per acre is a pretty weird way to evaluate financial success: the fact that both teams paid six-figure rents basically for land has to be seen as a pretty good deal for the nonprofits. And given that what Beckham and crew are proposing is very similar to how these two facilities were financed, that’s got to be good news for Miami-Dade County and the city of Miami, whose government is still reeling from what was seen as a bad funding deal for a new Miami Marlins ballpark.
Of course, there are cases where public funding of MLS stadiums didn’t work well, and the Herald does a good job in summarizing the problems. They’re good warnings as Miami-Dade County debates the Beckham stadium financing deal.