Owners of the upcoming Miami MLS franchise are considering alternative stadium sites, adding more possibilities to a mix that includes a location in Overtown.
MLS has formally announced plans for the Miami expansion franchise, which features an ownership group headlined by David Beckham. Along with Beckham, the club is backed by prominent local businessmen Jorge and Jose Mas, American Idol founder Simon Fuller, SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son and Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure.
It has long been expected that a new Miami MLS stadium will be constructed at a nine-acre site in the city’s Overtown neighborhood. However, recent reports have indicated that the ownership group might be looking to broaden the stadium project’s scope, potentially making it too large for the Overtown site. That has prompted discussion that the group could move the stadium to another site. In a recent interview, Jorge Mas indicated that Overtown has not been completely ruled out but that the group continues to look at other locations. More from The Miami Herald:
“We’re actively looking at five or so sites,” said Jorge Mas, the Miami executive who became the public face of Beckham’s stadium hunt after he and brother José joined the partnership late last year. “There are a handful of sites that are interesting.”
The statement amplifies what’s been obvious for weeks: that the Mas brothers want the 25,000-seat stadium built somewhere other than Overtown, the Miami neighborhood that has been the Beckham group’s announced site since late 2015. The Mas brothers have been in talks with top Miami officials about building a stadium at the city’s Melreese golf course, but have never publicly confirmed their interest in leaving Overtown.
In an interview with the Miami Herald, Mas said Overtown remains a possibility. But he gave his strongest indication yet that the partnership, which includes Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure and “American Idol” creator Simon Fuller, is starting fresh with a new list of stadium sites.
Mas described a winnowing process under way among the partners that will settle on two finalists within the next two months.
Though The Herald stated that Mas “declined to confirm individual sites,” it did report multiple locations that are said to be under consideration. That includes Overtown, Melreese golf course, a city-owned site located near Jackson Memorial Hospital, land on the grounds of the Hialeah Park and Casino, and a Pepsi distribution center in Doral.
While it remains to be seen if the project will ultimately shift from Overtown, the stadium proposal there faces a few hurdles. There is a legal challenge from Bruce Matheson, who has argued that a county-owned parcel for the stadium was sold below fair market value and should have been subjected to a bid process, and governmental approval is still needed for some aspects of the plan. In addition, some residents in Overtown and the adjacent Spring Garden neighborhood have voiced their opposition to the proposal.
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