Miami-Dade County commissioners ended an effort by David Beckham and his investors to bring an MLS stadium to a waterfront PortMiami site, saying the facility would be best sited elsewhere.
Beckham and crew had targeted a waterfront site near cruise terminals and American Airlines Arena for a 20,000-seat stadium. But that same land, currently sitting unused, has been eyed by Royal Caribbean as the site of a multiuse development with high rises and hotels/retail for cruise customers. In the end, local politicians partnered with local business owners who have plenty of pull in Miami to vote down any home of building an MLS stadium at the site.
This leaves the Miami MLS organizers to seek out an alternative stadium site. Two are in contention: another waterfront site and open land at the old Orange Bowl site, near Marlins Park. There are pluses and minuses to both. Building at the other waterfront site, located north of American Airlines Arena, involves filling in a slip and then building the stadium: it would involve the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers approving a fill plan and the city of Miami supplying the land. (It might also involve a long legal process: environmentalists have come out against the proposal.) Building next to Marlins Park isn’t high atop the Beckham group’s list: investor Simon Fuller (creator of American Idol) called it “spiritually tainted” because of how the ballpark came about (a lot of public tussle and a lot of public subsidy). Although the current plan calls for a privately financed stadium (though some state aid may end up being in the mix), the bad feelings engendered by the Marlins deal will surely spill over to the MLS deal. From the Miami Herald:
Commissioners said repeatedly that their vote should not be taken as a rebuke to Beckham’s broader effort to bring back professional soccer. They want his franchise here, the politicians said — just not at the port.
“Soccer will keep Miami on the map, will add value to Miami,” Commissioner Jean Monestime said.