Soccer

David Beckham, Miami-Dade County to rally support for MLS stadium

 

mkaufman@MiamiHerald.com

David Beckham, Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez are targeting next Wednesday to hold a news conference in Miami to rally support for a privately funded stadium and bring South Florida up to date on the status of the plan to bring MLS to Miami in 2017.

Gimenez confirmed the date of the news conference after meeting for more than three hours Tuesday with Beckham’s group, Miami Beckham United. He said there also could be another related event next Tuesday night.

The two sides set a timeline to complete any negotiations — stadium or no — by the end of the summer, according to the mayor.

Of the up to 30 sites scouted by Beckham’s group, five are “viable,” Gimenez said. Ten fell off the list entirely because they aren’t available for construction, he added.

Favored among the locations for a 25,000-seat stadium is a county-owned waterfront lot on the southwest corner of PortMiami. Also under consideration is another county-owned parcel near Marlins Park in Little Havana and the Miami River, Gimenez said, and three other sites with public and private owners.

“We didn’t narrow it down,” he said. Instead, both sides set a framework and a timeline for the negotiations.

“We’re just getting started,” said John Alschuler, the New York-based developer hired by Beckham’s group to scout locations.

A Miami MLS expansion franchise is contingent on a viable stadium plan approved by the league’s Board of Governors. Still, when asked about a potential league commitment to a Miami team, Gimenez said: “Hopefully we’ll see that on Wednesday.”

With negotiations still ongoing, next week’s news briefing will serve more as an “If you build it, we will come” message. Garber and MLS officials held similar news conferences in New York and Orlando before those cites were awarded teams.

Beckham will be in the New York area over the weekend, appearing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on Friday night, attending the Super Bowl on Sunday and then heading to Miami on Monday.

Garber said two weeks ago that he expected an announcement on the status of the discussions with Beckham “in early February.”

“There’s a lot of work that needs to happen,” Garber said. “We can’t go to Miami without the right stadium solution. David understands that. The city understands that. That’s an indisputable fact. We can’t have different rules in Miami than we have in any other city.

“We want to do as much as we can to work with David and [Beckham’s manager/business partner] Simon Fuller to get something done as quickly as we can.”

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