David Beckham moves forward with new stadium plans in Miami
Miami Beckham United unveiled its plans to build a soccer-specific stadium and expand Museum Park on a site next to AmericanAirlines Arena on Thursday afternoon.
The intricate concept involves the use of an abandoned boat slip and a small parcel of land to create room for the expected 20,000-seat stadium and increase the frontage and the scope of the public park along Biscayne Bay.
In order to build on this site, Miami Beckham United will need to facilitate a land swap deal between Miami-Dade County and the city of Miami to cobble together the necessary land, reclaim the boat slip at its own considerable expense and use its own resources to expand the park by an additional 4.3 acres.
Prospective investor/operator David Beckham said he and his partners are willing to undertake those measures in a bid to finally secure a stadium deal.
“I’ve always said that our team will be the people’s club – another downtown amenity that makes the entire Miami-Dade community proud,” Beckham said in a statement obtained by FOX Soccer. “By expanding Museum Park with new public spaces anchored by world-class art and science museums and a world-class soccer club, we’ll be activating the waterfront on a year-round basis.”
The focus on the public welfare – including the desire to plunge resources into Museum Park and the repeated emphasis on private funding (with the potential aid of a state subsidy) for the stadium itself – stems from the political fight ahead as this project continues.
Beckham and his partners must persuade city and county voters about the benefits and the merits of this project ahead of a referendum later this year. Miami-Dade County mayor Carlos Gimenez and Miami mayor Tomás Regalado have both committed to holding a vote on the project before proceeding with it. The use of city land in this project – likely to involve so-called Parcel B, a county-owned tract of land that would eventually house a portion of the stadium, after the land swap – mandates the approval of the voters.
The unpredictable nature of the final outcome injects more uncertainty into the negotiations ahead. Both the city and the county must agree to the terms on the proposed land swap – including the transfer of the boat slip to the county and the unused parkland to the city – and reach a financial agreement with Miami Beckham United about its obligations moving forward. The intricacies of that potential pact present significant hurdles to navigate as this group continues its quest.
Beckham and his partners are under no illusions about the difficulty of the road ahead in light of the setbacks already incurred. Staunch opposition at PortMiami prompted Miami-Dade County commissioners to vote against any potential plan to build a stadium at the originally preferred site on Dodge Island earlier this week. Prospective investor Simon Fuller called the idea of building a stadium at an alternative site near Marlins Park as “spiritually tainted” in a recent interview with the Miami Herald. Other prospective locations near Florida International University and Miami International Airport lack the desired downtown proximity.
At this stage of this protracted process, this complex deal looks like Beckham’s best bet to build a stadium within the current landscape. There is plenty of work ahead and there are several obstacles left to clear, but this plan – even with its complications – at least offers him an opportunity to move forward toward a successful conclusion.