Miami-Dade County

Neighborhood group bashes David Beckham’s stadium plan for Miami

David Beckham promoting his plans for a Miami Major League Soccer team.
David Beckham promoting his plans for a Miami Major League Soccer team. EL NUEVO HERALD FILE 2014

The neighborhood that’s a short walk from David Beckham’s stadium site in Overtown is accusing Miami-Dade of trying to “steamroll” residents by rushing approval of a land deal needed for the 25,000-seat facility.

An email from the Spring Garden Civic Association blasts Miami-Dade for a rushing to hold a community meeting on the plan Wednesday, and notes Beckham’s plan for a Major League Soccer stadium has no plans for parking facilities. Spring Garden sits on the other side of a bridge from Overtown and a few blocks from the Beckham site.

“In an obvious attempt to steamroll the so-called soccer stadium through the Board of County Commissioners, the County is conducting a ‘public hearing’ with two days notice to approve David Beckham’s 25,000 seat concert venue in Spring Garden and Overtown,” reads the email from Ernest Martin, president of the association.

“The meeting has been publicly noticed. Residents were made aware,” said Michael Hernández, the county’s communications director. “If residents are unable to attend Wednesday evening’s meeting, they will have an opportunity to be heard when the sale of the property goes before the county commission for approval.”

Beckham Miami United, the formal name for the soccer star’s stadium partnership, issued a statement that read in part: “The public has been aware of our intent to purchase this County-owned land for more than a year, and we’ve been finalizing our club throughout that span…We look forward to hearing from residents of Overtown, Spring Garden and beyond on Wednesday evening.”

Spring Garden has been a top critic of Beckham’s plans for Overtown, arguing the stadium will flood the adjoining neighborhood with soccer fans driving to the games or seeking street parking.

In an obvious attempt to steamroll the so-called soccer stadium through the Board of County Commissioners, the County is conducting a ‘public hearing’ with a two days notice to approve David Beckham’s 25,000 seat concert venue in Spring Garden and Overtown.

Email from Spring Garden Civic Association

Beckham’s stadium would not have parking facilities, and the team said fans will walk from a nearby Metrorail station and from parking at the edge of downtown Miami. After launching a hunt for a Miami stadium site in early 2014, the Beckham team has already bought six acres in Overtown but has yet to reveal what the venue would look like.

Beckham’s group wants to buy a three-acre parcel from Miami-Dade to complete the assemblage needed for the open-air stadium. Wednesday’s 6 p.m. meeting at the Overtown YWCA (351 NW Fifth St.) was demanded by Audrey Edmonson, the county commissioner representing Overtown, before allowing a vote next month to approve the deal.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez wants to sell the parcel, currently a truck depot, at market rate under Florida’s economic-development law, which allows a deal without competitive bids. Last year, the county estimated the property was worth about $9 million.

The Beckham group faced skeptical neighbors in late 2015 when it had a town hall at the same YWCA, shortly after announcing Overtown as its latest choice for the stadium site. While a final deal appeared imminent, the Beckham team halted talks with Miami-Dade over the land as it searched for investors needed to finance a development deal expected to cost more than $200 million.

I want to make sure they address everything they said they were going to address.

Audrey Edmonson, Miami-Dade commissioner representing Overtown

With a new partner aboard, Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly, the Beckham group wants to quickly close a deal with Miami-Dade. On Tuesday, Edmonson, whose vote as the hometown commissioner is crucial on the 13-member commission, said she wants to hear the Beckham group’s plan for addressing Overtown concerns. Those have included job creation and use of local vendors.

“I want to make sure they address everything they said they were going to address,” she said.

Beckham’s group has not yet revealed what an Overtown stadium would look like. A rendering it presented at the YWCA in 2015 was a design created for an old site — by Marlins Park in Little Havana — that was superimposed over a map of the Overtown site.

Nearly 18 months later, Beckham spokesman Tadd Schwartz on Tuesday called the drawing “a composite of existing MLS stadiums to show size/scale on the site.” He said the Beckham group did not have a rendering of the proposed stadium to share with the public. At the Dec. 17, 2015 town hall, Beckham partner Tim Leiweke had said he hoped to have a rendering to share within two months.

At the time, Edmonson said she didn’t have enough information to decide whether to endorse Beckham’s plan. “I want Major League Soccer in my district,” she said at the town hall. “But I want to see what those plans are going to look like.”

While Edmonson represents Overtown, Bruno Barreiro is the county commissioner whose district includes Spring Garden. Now a Republican candidate for Congress, he said he cannot attend Wednesday’s event because he’ll be at a political meeting in Washington. “I would have loved to be there,” he said.

Barreiro said he supports bringing a soccer stadium to Miami, but wants to know more about how Beckham plans to deal with traffic and cars. “How are people going to get in and out?” he said.

Martin, the Spring Garden representative, said he’s mainly concerned about the stadium’s ability to serve as an alternative concert venue to downtown’s AmericanAirlines Arena. “We’re a quiet area, which is really a luxury in Miami,” he said. “Having this thing plopped down is going to really impact both neighborhoods.”

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