David Beckham’s push to bring a soccer stadium to Overtown faces the neighbors Wednesday night with a town hall planned blocks from where he wants to build the 25,000-seat venue.
The meeting may be the final way point before Beckham seeks Miami-Dade approval to buy a three-acre truck depot from the county that he needs to complete an assemblage of land for the stadium site. Mayor Carlos Gimenez wanted to bring the proposed deal before the County Commission this week, but the stadium site’s commissioner, Audrey Edmonson, said she wanted neighbors to have a chance to weigh in first. Edmonson and Gimenez are listed as the hosts of the event.
Labeled a “Community Conversation,” the public event begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the YWCA, 351 NW Fifth St., in Miami’s Overtown neighborhood. Beckham’s group has already purchased six acres of private land at the proposed site, a two-block area that runs along Northwest Sixth Avenue between Sixth and Eighth streets.
Beckham representatives held a town hall at the same YWCA at the end of 2015, shortly after the group announced Overtown as its latest target for a long-delayed stadium project. His representatives, as well as Gimenez and Edmonson, faced skeptical neighbors that evening, particularly from Spring Garden, the neighborhood that sits across a canal from the proposed stadium site.
Residents there claim the stadium threatens to overwhelm Spring Garden with traffic and parked vehicles for a venue with no plans for a garage, while people in Overtown wanted to know how the venture would live up to promises of an economic boost for one of Miami’s poorest neighborhoods.
Momentum for Beckham’s stadium plan faded in 2016 as the soccer star’s partners searched for a deep-pocketed investor to bankroll a project expected to cost more than $200 million. But the Beckham group revved up the urgency again last week after a co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Todd Boehly, agreed to join the partnership.
Now the Beckham group is ready to buy the county-owned parcel, which the county last year estimated was worth about $9 million. Gimenez wants to use a state economic-development law to sell the parcel to Beckham without accepting offers from other purchasers. The Beckham group also must win approval from Major League Soccer to buy an expansion franchise, a deal promised to Beckham while he was an MLS player in Los Angeles, and secure zoning changes from Miami to build the stadium.