When David Beckham declared his desire to bring a MLS team to Miami in February 2014, he invited dignitaries from across the city to the Pérez Art Museum and perched them in a venue right on the water. He sold them on his vision and underscored the need to construct a new stadium to bring it to life. The location reflected his ideal setting: a trendy club inserted right into the heart of a bustling, cosmopolitan city.
Beckham and his partners at Miami Beckham United chased that dream without contemplating the political realities of the situation. They overestimated the effects of Beckham’s charms and underestimated the quagmire ahead of them. They wasted the better part of 18 months trying to learn what they should have already known: Perfection — or anything remotely close to it — isn’t possible when trying build a stadium with public help in South Florida in the wake of the Marlins Park disaster.
One by one, the stadium sites slipped away and the compromises started. The powerful cruise line lobby scuppered the attempts to build on Dodge Island. The sheer ridiculousness of trying to fill in a boat slip eliminated the second choice site near AmericanAirlines Arena. The process culled site after site from the list until Miami Beckham United floated a fanciful stadium plan near Marlins Park in Little Havana over the past couple of months.
Article continues below ...
Beckham and his partners withdrew that proposal before presenting it to the city commission on Tuesday. The circumstances were particularly galling for a group filled with powerbrokers: They were foiled this time by a group of small landowners willing to hold out for top dollar for their parcels. The particulars of this shot in the dark — a potential agreement mired in complications involving the Miami-Dade County School Board, the upcoming Miami-Dade mayoral election and the contractual rights held by the Marlins as part of the widely reviled deal to build that baseball stadium — underscore how far Beckham and his partners traveled away from that perfect proposal on the water.
At this point, those dreams are incompatible with reality. Beckham brought former Anschutz Entertainment Group and MLSE CEO Tim Leiweke into his group to strike a deal. It’s time to get one sorted in Overtown (the latest leader in the clubhouse) or near Miami International Airport or some other private parcel in the city, even if the final site costs a bit more out of pocket or lacks the sizzle promised at the outset.
Beckham and his partners cannot make up for the missteps taken and the time lost, but they can at least complete the process at long last. It is time to assess the remaining options, pick the most realistic one to complete and push it through. The deal might not fulfill the original vision in its totality, but it would finally deliver the team Beckham promised some time before the end of the decade.