Fabiola Santiago: Waterfront stadium a terrible idea

05/20/2014 6:31 PM

05/27/2014 6:34 PM

A friend posted on Facebook the photo of a rugged road sign shaped like an arrow. It points to a field, metaphor for uncharted territory, and reads “Amazing Day Rd.”

“Take an unbeaten path today,” she wrote.

After seeing the post, I chuckled and thought: That’s exactly what Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez and the David Beckham investor group need to evolve from their stuck-on-the-waterfront thinking — a pep talk from the self-help crowd.

They go from one bad idea — erecting Beckham’s Major League Soccer stadium at a PortMiami site – to endorsing an even worse location: a tiny boat slip between the AmericanAirlines Arena and Museum Park.

The new location has few friends except the two mayors — surprise! Sweet-talking Beckham, the charming and poised British gentleman, has now warned that if he doesn’t get a downtown waterfront location he’s outta here.

The Miami-Dade Commission voted against the PortMiami land Tuesday, so I guess it’s, sorry to see you go, and it’ll be a shame, but…. It could be adiós Beckham.

The people of Miami were promised a grand park on the waterfront along Biscayne Boulevard with a boardwalk to the sea — not another squeezed-in monstrous structure blocking bay views.

Can Beckham imagine London with a shrinking Hyde Park so that a stadium can be built on it? Would Londoners go for a soccer stadium on a boat slip along the heart of the Thames?

Wembley is a stunning stadium, but it doesn’t have any water views. It does seem to have, however, adequate road access. Come to think of it, a lot like Sun Life Stadium, and isn’t World Cup Soccer one of the events the Dolphins stadium’s owners are pledging to lure here with a renovation?

Why then should the private interests of Miami Beckham United (quite the misnomer) trump that of city and county residents?

An MLS team is a welcome addition to our sports town line-up, but not with a gun to our heads to give up what little precious public access there is to the bay.

The boat slip deal will go to a referendum before Miami voters — and Regalado seemed much too confident Tuesday that approval was a slam dunk.

“…We can make this happen,” he tweeted.

The eight followers favoring his tweet when I checked were all connected to soccer interests.

“Soccer Stadium on a Boat Slip.” Sounds like the name of a conceptual art installation, high on imagination, low on feasibility. Sort of like the stadium equivalent of the zero-lot line developments that line our palm tree-swept landscape.

More crunched-up structures to coin a new motto for Miami: Jam it on the waterfront and they will come. Never mind living in a seaside city with scarce sea views for ordinary citizens to appreciate.

No doubt Miami and soccer are a natural match. But Beckham has come too late to the crowded waterfront, and we’ve gone down the road of bad sport stadium deals several times before. It’s high time our public officials applied the lessons learned.

Take my friend’s advice and follow the unbeaten path to the marriage of public land with private investors. Surely, there’s a better lot in-land for Beckham to develop.

Maybe then the soccer star and his political allies will find the road to an Amazing Stadium — and we can all cheer, “G-o-o-o-l!”

About Fabiola Santiago

Fabiola Santiago


Fabiola Santiago was born in Cuba. She was exiled to the U.S. in 1969 on one of the historic Freedom Flights. She has been a Herald reporter and editor since 1980.

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