Hear that? After months of cacophony, quiet is what we’re hearing from soccer star David Beckham, who has been desperately trying to find a downtown Miami bayfront site to build a stadium for his Major League Soccer franchise.
It’s especially odd now since we’re in the final week of World Cup fever, which has truly infected Miami-Dade like never before.
Mr. Beckham has been proven more than right. The large, boisterous crowds at local bars and restaurants to watch match after match have been financial boon for many businesses. Soccer is popular in South Florida, and in a money-making way.
So where is Mr. Beckham these days? Shopping for a stadium site, in Broward County. His team told Miami and Miami-Dade officials, who have rejected his request for two waterfront sites, that he’s taking a breather from the hunt.
It’s not him, it’s us.
Mr. Beckham should find the best available site for his $250-million dream. If Miami can’t provide it, Broward County would be a great place. After all, the siting would reflect the type of regionalism that can only make South Florida stronger. We’ve seen it work with transportation, and such solidarity could help the region better confront climate change.
Similarly, it would be a shame if South Florida lost the stadium altogether. Besides, Broward has long been the home of the area’s only professional soccer team, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.
As Broward Vice Mayor Tim Ryan told the Editorial Board: “Governments are the ones that care about boundaries. For the average person, Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm are all in South Florida. Soccer fans will just be concerned about how long it’ll take them to drive to the stadium.”
In Broward, there is one prime tract to be considered for the Beckham stadium (though Hallandale Mayor Joy Cooper has dangled property near the water): Land adjacent to the BB&T Center in Sunrise, home of the Florida Panthers hockey team. The 140-acre parcel, owned by Sunrise Sports & Entertainment, offers plenty of room for parking and it’s a site proven to handle large crowds. It’s also near Sawgrass Mills, a giant outlet mall that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from soccer-loving nations.
Mr. Beckham would have to strike a deal with the owners, who have a lease with the county through 2028. The Broward Commission would then have to approve the stadium’s construction. Mr. Ryan said he’ll support it if no public subsidy is sought. One of the deal sweeteners was that the Miami stadium would be built with private funds.
Mr. Beckham might think that the cachet of a downtown Miami locale would be missing. But his quest for such property has only led to disappointment. Officials in Miami and Miami-Dade have rejected proposals for the two sites he coveted — a PortMiami parking lot and a boat slip next to the AmericanAirlines Arena.
Some soccer fans are encouraging Mr. Beckham to take Broward seriously. Over the weekend, the WorldSoccerTalk website posted, “ 5 Reasons Why David Beckham Should Select Broward for his MLS Team Location:”
No political games; a successful soccer market; more land, more choices; easily accessible and better parking and facilities.
All persuasive points.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said he’s still committed to working with the soccer star. He’s waiting for Mr. Beckham’s next call — which might be for Broward.