David Beckham continues his Miami sales job with vision for waterfront stadium
The latest salvo in the battle for PortMiami arrived courtesy of a slick set of images designed to entice and persuade Miami about the desirability of a soccer-specific stadium on Dodge Island.
Every piece of this carefully planned roll-out in the Miami Herald on Monday morning carried the hallmarks of a typical Brand Beckham maneuver: polished from the outset, primed for public consumption and tailored exactly to suit the task at hand.
David Beckham and his partners face an almighty wrangle to adopt a desirable piece of Miami-Dade County land and perch their 20,000- to 25,000-seat palace right upon it. This visual overture offered an alluring glimpse at the future and provided a chance to dream about what might come to pass at some point in the future.
“We think it’s time to share our vision,” Beckham real estate advisor John Alschuler told the Herald on Monday. “Let’s have a full, vigorous public debate about it. We feel a stadium downtown can be a key contributor to the revival of a great city. David loves what it’s becoming, and much of that energy is downtown.
And what a vision for downtown it is. The vistas outlined in these renderings – a fresh, modern stadium with a full view of the glittering skyline at night – dovetail appropriately with Miami itself. It is easy to imagine this project as the next step in urban development, a key piece in the future of a city hoping to cultivate more engagement in its core in the short- and long-term.
It does require a bit of imagination to accept the details as presently constituted, though. The current plan involves a renovated drawbridge to link the site with downtown, a plethora of associated dining and retail options along the way and a dearth of genuine parking options for a city generally reliant on cars to move from place to place.
Most of the particulars will come under strict scrutiny as this plan progresses and the realities of the obstacles in place rise to the fore. It will not prove easy to convince Royal Caribbean Cruises to drop its objections to a new tenant right next door. There are no easy solutions to fix the potential congestion in the area even with a potential Metro extension mooted or solve the awkward scheduling issues presented with nearby American Airlines Arena. The soccer folks will take issue with a fanciful, improbable and politically driven proposal to share an expanded version of the stadium with the University of Miami football team, too.
Each of those concerns – and many, many more, in truth – will receive full airing in due course, but the list of alternatives explains why Beckham and his prospective colleagues are focused so intently on this complicated site. The prospect of building a stadium close to Marlins Park in Little Havana, near the car-rental center at Miami International Airport northwest of downtown or next to Florida International University several miles west hardly aligns with the grand ideas already in place.
In order to sidestep the alternatives and transform grand ambition into reality, Beckham and his team must find a way to package this stadium plan as the right move for this parcel of land and the city as a whole. It is a sales job through and through, a pitched confrontation between the prospective investor/operators in Miami and the opponents who seek to throw hurdle after hurdle in their way.
The protracted struggle ahead to build at PortMiami makes every moment and every move critical. Both sides will attempt to capture public sentiment and persuade politicians as the project lurches toward the point where a verdict must finally arrive. The interim presents a contrast between Beckham’s broad, decisive strokes and other competing plans to seize the sort of opportunity most cities simply do not have.
Beckham and his partners must convince everyone their proposal makes economic and practical sense for Miami. The release of these renderings illustrated the possibility ahead and underscored the potential for this project, but they are just one component in this lengthy march. The next steps must prove as persuasive in order to ensure the final outcome fulfills the promise of the past few months and paves the way for a stadium right on the edge of Biscayne Bay.