In an attempt to jump-start bringing David Beckham’s stalled Major League Soccer team to Miami, county commissioners on Tuesday asked Mayor Carlos Gimenez to propose using Florida International University’s stadium as a temporary home for the franchise.
The unanimous yet largely symbolic move directs Gimenez to reach out again to Beckham and his investors, almost a year to the day since, on Feb. 4, 2014, the soccer star made a splash when he announced his plans for a Miami team.
Three months later, commissioners formally rejected Beckham’s idea to build a permanent soccer stadium on Miami-Dade County-owned land at PortMiami. MLS has said a new soccer-specific is required before Beckham can launch his expansion team.
Yet Commissioner Juan C. Zapata, a longtime proponent of professional soccer in Miami whose district includes FIU, has argued that Beckham might have better luck finding a stadium site once his team builds a fan base — by playing somewhere temporarily first.
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“It’d just be a wonderful thing for this community,” Zapata said Tuesday.
About a dozen Miami MLS fans sat in the commission chambers and applauded after the vote.
Beckham’s group, Miami Beckham United, has quietly been looking for a stadium site since June. Bruised by the rejection from the county and from the city of Miami, which dismissed an idea to fill the deep-water boat slip north of AmericanAirlines Arena to build there, the investors have been reticent about details of their real-estate search.
John Alschuler, Beckham’s real-estate adviser and lead negotiator, told the Miami Herald that the group remains focused on finding a permanent stadium site that fits its needs. Beckham and MLS have insisted on housing a team downtown near young professionals and mass transit.
“We’re pleased that members of the commission want to encourage movement,” Alschuler said. “We view that as a positive step.”
However, he wouldn’t commit to FIU — or any other site — as a temporary venue. Marlins Park in Little Havana and Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens have also been mentioned.
“Careful consideration will be given to FIU when we address the opportunities for a temporary facility,” local Miami Beckham United spokesman Tadd Schwartz said in a written statement.
Beckham raised fans’ hopes last week when he told entertainment-news site E! that he and his investors hope to have Miami franchise news soon.
“We’re pretty close to announcing certain things and then the stadium will come after that,” he said. “You can’t build a stadium overnight, so finding the right site, finding the right place in Miami is important for that.”
Neither Beckham’s group nor MLS have publicly set any deadlines for announcing a stadium location.