There has been much discussion lately regarding David Beckham’s Major League Soccer franchise and the building of a soccer stadium in Miami-Dade County. Some of this discussion is premature, given that at this time no decision has been made as to where the proposed stadium is to be located.
Some are putting the cart before the horse. To set the record straight, I think it is beneficial to outline where we stand on the negotiations with Beckham and his team.
Beckham’s group has been awarded an MLS franchise for Miami and the group is looking to build a soccer stadium somewhere in Miami-Dade. We have made it clear to them, and they have agreed, that they will pay all costs to build any stadium and will pay fair-market value if they want to lease county-owned land.
While PortMiami is the site that they prefer, it is not the only site being considered, meaning that there is no certainty that a stadium will be built at the port. In fact, there are positives and negatives to all the sites, all of which are being considered.
In the event that Beckham’s group and county officials agree that the port site is the best location for a stadium, it would be a decision based on factual data and common-sense considerations as to what is best for all parties involved.
PortMiami is a crucial economic engine of our community. Any decision regarding the port would have to take into consideration the effect on the operation of the port tunnel and the economic viability of the port. We will not jeopardize any of the jobs our port provides.
With this said, keep in mind that Miami-Dade County has yet to review a traffic study on the impact of a stadium at the port. Thus, we have no independent evidence as to what the impact would be. The same is true with most of the other arguments where we lack independent third party evidence.
Think about this: All arguments, against and in favor, are being made by parties with skin in the game. Their interests fuel their opposition or support. So we all have a right to wonder, who stands for the interests of the taxpayers?
That’s the role we play.
The bottom line is that from the beginning of these negotiations, my office has always kept the interest of the taxpayers at the forefront. While supporters and opponents have various personal interests in the outcome, my administration’s only interest is that the people of Miami-Dade County get the best possible outcome from this deal.
We are also interested in taking advantage of the many benefits that having professional sports teams bring to a community. We know the popularity of soccer in our community, and we believe that an MLS franchise would thrive here.
Carlos Gimenez is the mayor of Miami-Dade County.