Overtown Site Could be Too Small for Miami MLS Stadium Plan

Miami MLS Stadium rendering

The scope of a new Miami MLS stadium project could be changing, prompting concerns that its proposed nine-acre site in Overtown is too small. 

In January, MLS announced plans for a new Miami club, which came after years of work by David Beckham and his ownership group to land a team. Backed by prominent local businessmen Jorge and Jose Mas, as well as American Idol founder Simon Fuller, SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son and Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure, the Beckham effort has long been focused on a nine-acre site in Overtown for the construction of a new privately financed stadium.

That site has been one of the key components in Miami’s bid since it was publicly unveiled in late 2015, but there are now questions as to whether an evolving scope of the project could change the site. The Mas brothers have been reported to have some concerns about the Overtown site, and their vision of a tech-oriented project with surrounding development may not fit the nine-acre footprint. Though the group has not committed to moving on from the Overtown site or Overtown as a whole, Jorge Mas adds that the location may be too small for what the group is seeking, and confirms that meetings with developers regarding other locations have taken place. More from The Miami Herald:

“I want to make it the most technologically advanced, futuristic stadium in the country,” Mas said in an interview this week. “Obviously, you need more than nine acres for that. We’ve been exploring the surrounding area in terms of: What can we do to put this all together?”

The comments from the new local face of Beckham’s five-year quest to build a Major League Soccer stadium in Miami are the most concrete evidence yet that the longstanding plan to play in Overtown may be changing. Mas and brother José, leaders of Miami-based infrastructure firm Mastec, joined the Beckham partnership late last year as the soccer star’s first local investors. In private meetings, they’ve been entertaining the possibility of the future MLS franchise playing somewhere other than on the current Overtown site.

“They’re looking everywhere,” said Carlos Gimenez, mayor of Miami-Dade County, whose administration negotiated the pending sale of three acres of county land in Overtown for the current stadium site. “They’re looking at all different options.”

Mas confirmed he has met with developers about other stadium sites, but said the meetings don’t mean the soccer group is leaving Overtown. “We listen to everybody,” he said. “We’re nice.”

There are some other challenges with the Overtown site. Bruce Matheson continues to argue that a county-owned land parcel for the stadium was sold below fair market value and should have been subjected to a bid process. He lost his first legal challenge when his lawsuit was dismissed, but recently filed an appeal. In addition, some residents in Overtown and the adjacent Spring Garden neighborhood are voicing their opposition to the proposal, which could have an effect given that certain aspects of the stadium plan still require governmental approval.

Last June, Miami-Dade County officials voted to move forward with a process that would allow Beckham’s group to purchase three acres of the stadium site for $9 million. However, the group does not own the entirety of the site at this point, as it does not have to close on the county-owned land until this June.

Prior to zeroing in on the Overtown site in late 2015, the Beckham group was connected to several others spot around Miami, including land at PortMiami, a location next to AmericanAirlines Arena, and a site near Marlins Park. According to The Herald, MLS has given the group approval to construct a stadium only within Miami’s city limits, so a plan for a site outside of the city would require new approval.

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