Miami-Dade County

David Beckham started his Miami stadium quest in 2013. Is an end near?

Beckham group unveils new stadium plan

The new David Beckham stadium design is airy, and touts the absence of parking garages negotiators said at a meeting on Wed., May 17, 2017.
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The new David Beckham stadium design is airy, and touts the absence of parking garages negotiators said at a meeting on Wed., May 17, 2017.

After four years of fizzled land deals and foiled optimism, David Beckham finally looks to be on the verge of acquiring enough Miami real estate to build a Major League Soccer stadium.

On Tuesday, Miami-Dade commissioners are being asked to ratify a recommendation by the mayor to sell Beckham’s partnership a three-acre county truck depot at the corner of Northwest Sixth St. and Sixth Avenue to complete the group’s nine-acre stadium site near the Miami River in Overtown.

The commissioner representing Overtown, Audrey Edmonson, supports the deal. Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who championed the agreement at neighborhood meetings, is confident enough of the outcome that he will be on a European trip during Tuesday’s vote.

Beckham still needs zoning approval from Miami to build the 25,000-seat, privately funded venue. But winning county permission for the $9 million land transaction would move the retired soccer star closer than ever to succeeding in a stadium quest that officially began in 2013.

port miami southwest corner
David Beckham’s original pick for a Miami soccer stadium: the southwest corner of Miami-Dade’s PortMiami. Peter Andrew Bosch Miami Herald staff

Here’s a look at some of the highs and lows for Beckham’s Miami stadium hunt:

June 1, 2013: Beckham meets Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez during a tour of stadiums owned by the Miami Dolphins and Florida International University in an early bid to drum up excitement for the celebrity athlete possibly bringing MLS to Miami.

Nov. 27, 2013: Gimenez’s office reveals Beckham wants to build a stadium at county-owned PortMiami.

Dec. 18, 2013: The Miami-Dade commission gives unanimous approval for Gimenez to negotiate with the Beckham group to find a stadium site. While enthusiastic about professional soccer returning to Miami (an MLS franchise playing in Fort Lauderdale folded in 2001), some commissioners warn the port might not be a good home for Beckham.

This is a milestone.

Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado on talks to place a soccer stadium next to Marlins Park. The talks fail.

Feb. 4, 2014: Beckham schmoozes with the Miami establishment during a reception at the Adrienne Arsht Performing Arts Center, a party that spawned a surge of social-media posts from politicians posing with the celebrity seeking a land deal.

Feb. 5, 2014: Beckham officially launches his bid for a Miami stadium by joining Gimenez and MLS Commissioner Don Garber for a press conference at Pérez Art Museum Miami, overlooking the port. He later cuts short a visit to the Kendall Soccer Park after he’s mobbed by media and fans seeking autographs.

beckham and suarez
Francis Suarez poses with David Beckham at a reception on Feb. 4, 2014, back when Suarez was a city commissioner and Beckham was looking to build a soccer stadium in downtown. Miami Herald file

April 24, 2014: A group led by Royal Caribbean launches newspaper ads opposing a soccer stadium at the port. Warns against risking good cargo jobs for “peanut sellers and ticket takers.”

May 20, 2014: County commissioners officially nix PortMiami as a stadium site, shortly after Gimenez suggests a new soccer plan: filling in a city-owned slip on the Miami waterfront, next to the soon-to-open Museum Park.

June 2, 2014: Beckham advisor John Alschuler declares that a soccer stadium looming above the Miami waterfront would save a park that would otherwise fail. Alschuler will later part ways with the Beckham team.

June 11, 2014: Miami cancels talks with Beckham over the waterfront site. “The slip is off the table,” says Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado.

July 22, 2014: Broward County asks its 31 cities to suggest potential stadium sites for Beckham.

Sept. 10, 2014: “My dream was to have our stadium on a waterfront,” Beckham says in a television interview with Bloomberg. “It’s not worked out like that and we have alternate sites. It will happen.”

It will happen.

David Beckham, nearly three years ago, on his Miami stadium.

March 8, 2015: Raquel Regalado, a school-board member and daughter of Miami’s mayor, announces a challenge of Gimenez in the 2016 county mayor race.

March 23, 2015: Beckham tells Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine at a dinner party that he’s open to a stadium next to Marlins Park, a site that Beckham partner Simon Fuller had famously declared “spiritually tainted” during the PortMiami bid.

May 22, 2015: With just a week left on the job, outgoing University of Miami President Donna Shalala meets with Beckham about the university partnering on a joint football and soccer stadium next to Marlins Park.

July 17, 2015: Mayor Regalado announces Beckham wants a stadium next to Marlins Park, on a mix of city and privately owned land. “This is a milestone,” he says.

Sept. 12, 2015: MLS leaders are “as confident as we have ever been that we will be able to move this forward and finalize a deal,” Garber tells reporters, according to a Miami Herald report.

Oct. 21, 2015: Miami-Dade schools chief Alberto Carvalho persuades Beckham to let it be the landlord of his stadium, rather than Miami-Dade.

Oct. 23, 2015: A “mayoral maelstrom” erupts over the proposed change. Gimenez blames Miami’s mayor for the switch, citing “petty politics” tied to Raquel Regalado’s campaign. Tomás Regalado dismisses the county mayor’s “tantrum” while Raquel Regalado blames Gimenez for “creating intrigue.”

Nov. 6, 2015: Beckham partner Tim Leiweke predicts talks with private land owners around Marlins Park likely to “blow up” over asking prices.

Dec. 5, 2015: Beckham group drops Marlins Park plan in favor of a nine-acre site in Overtown. Three acres would come from Miami-Dade. The school system is no longer involved, and Beckham group says it will own the stadium outright. Private ownership requires the group to pay property taxes.

Dec. 18, 2015: At town hall in Overtown, Leiweke defends plans to build a stadium without garages in an area without parking facilities. He says the stadium will rely on the nearby Culmer Metrorail station and existing parking facilities about a half mile away.

March 25, 2016: The Beckham partnership, which includes Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure, pays $19 million for the privately owned segment of the stadium site.

June 21, 2016: With no word on a deal to buy the county-owned truck depot needed for the stadium site, Beckham continues his hunt for a deep-pocketed investor to finance a stadium expected to cost at least $175 million to build. The Miami Herald reports Wesley Edens — a co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucs and a top executive at the company building Miami’s Brightline railway — is in talks with Beckham about buying a stake in the soccer franchise. The talks later fizzle.

If you can’t get it done, you move on.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber

Dec. 10, 2016: “It’s time for us to reach a conclusion,” Garber, the MLS commissioner, on Beckham and Miami. “If you can’t get it done, you move on.”

March 4, 2017: County Commissioner Xavier Suarez suggests Miami-Dade might have other uses for the land Beckham wants. “How long are we going to negotiate,” Suarez asks, “before we decide maybe that ought to be made available for some affordable housing?”

April 27, 2017: The Daily Mail reports Beckham finally has an investor on board to back financing of the stadium. Todd Boehly, a co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, joins the partnership, prompting the Beckham group to jumpstart talks with Miami-Dade over the three-acre parcel.

May 17, 2017: At a town hall, residents of Spring Garden, the neighborhood next to Overtown, warn of major disruptions from a stadium that won’t provide parking. Leiweke promises shuttles from surrounding garages and efforts to ferry some fans up the Miami River by boat.

May 31, 2017: Gimenez’s office releases a detailed proposal for the land sale. To avoid a competitive bidding process, Miami-Dade would use the state’s economic development law to sell the land to Miami Beckham United for $9 million. The Beckham group agrees to create 50 full-time jobs on the property within six years, and half must pay at least the county’s living wage (currently about $15 an hour). Beckham has about a year to back out of the purchase (and would lose a $500,000 down payment).

June 6, 2017: Miami-Dade commissioners approve deal allowing David Beckham and partners to purchase a three-acre warehouse and truck depot for the county's Water and Sewer Department. The price is $9 million in a no-bid deal granted under the state's economic-development law.

July 21, 2017: Bruce Matheson, a wealthy activist who owns land near the Beckham stadium site, sues to block the county sale, which has until 2018 to close. He claims the county should have sought other bidders for the land.

Aug. 2, 2017: Major League Soccer owners grant tentative approval of the Beckham Miami franchise, but leave finalizing the deal to a league negotiating team. The terms cause confusion, with some media outlets reporting the decision as a milestone and others as a potential setback since the vote fell short of final approval. 

Oct. 11, 2017: A trial judge tosses Matheson's suit, ruling the county properly followed state law in conducting exclusive negotiations with Beckham in exchange for requiring  the stadium meet local hiring and contracting requirements.

Nov. 28, 2017: Tim Leiweke, once Beckham's top Miami negotiator and a partner in stadium bid, tells the Toronto Sun he has "fears" the Miami deal won't get done. he remarks are the first public signs of turmoil and doubt in the ownership group. 

Dec. 12, 2017: The Beckham group announces an ownership shake-up, with lead investor Todd Boehly exiting the venture and Jorge and Jose Mas, leading Miami business executives, joining as new partners. 

Jan. 26, 2018: After word leaked to media outlets days before, the Beckham group confirms a milestone announcement for Monday, Jan. 29: formal approval by MLS of the Miami franchise.


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