Of all the places in the country to build a soccer stadium, Miami — with its large Hispanic and multicultural population — would seem to be the ideal place for one.
Add the funding power of soccer all-star David Beckham and Miami seems to be heading towards that direction; however, many politicians and residents are still in disagreement with an exact location for the 20,000-seat stadium.
The Coral Gables Museum’s Stadium Series’ Miami Soccer Stadium: Where or Where Not aimed to explore possible location solutions by hosting a panel discussion with three city experts.
The last of the museum’s three-part stadium series took place at the Miami Center for Art and Design in downtown Miami on July 31 and was organized with the help of the American Institute of Architects.
“No one is really resisting the idea of having a soccer stadium in our community,” said Bernard Zysovich, founder of Zyscovich and Architects.
“There was however consensus around the idea that there are a lot of issues related to waterfront locations for stadiums that could just as easily be somewhere else.”
For Zyscovich, the ideal placement for Beckham’s stadium would be near flowing public transportation and somewhere that would not displace single-family residents like the middle of a neighborhood.
“It could see a location that is near transit that’s possibly underutilized land or warehouse hangers,” said Zyscovich, who believes there might be space for the stadium near the Miami International Airport. “Then we could begin to build a new neighborhood around it, just like we did when we made Midtown.”
One idea presented at the discussion was placing the soccer stadium near a low-income neighborhood because it would help revive its community with smart development.
“It all depends on how it’s designed,” said Gregory Bush, associate professor of history at the University of Miami and a founding member of the Urban Environment League. “There are ways to design stadiums where you can have retail and some multi-use functions as part of the development.”
For Brain Corey, 29, who was among the 40 attendees at the discussion, the idea of having a stadium in Miami is one he would like to embrace.
“Miami has a bit of stadium phobia now because whenever you mention the word stadium everybody thinks that someone is trying to take something from someone,” said Corey, the owner of an internet marketing firm who believes it’s difficult to convey fundamental differences between Beckham and the Marlins stadium to Miamians.
“We want Miami to be a better place and we legitimately think the soccer stadium and soccer is going to help get it there.”
For Silvia Espianosa, 44, an artist who recently moved back to Miami from New York City, the idea of having a stadium in or near downtown is one she is opposed to.
“The last thing I want to see is a giant dinosaur dead for most of the year sitting and blocking the view. What we need is life,” said Espianosa, who graduated from New World School of the Arts in 1988.
“I lived in Manhattan and the reason it’s an exciting place to live is because people live right there,” Espianosa said. “They shop, eat, go to the restaurants, the art galleries, the cultural institutions and that’s what makes a great city, not a soccer stadium.”