It’s nearing fish-or-cut-bait time for David Beckman’s Major League Soccer hopes for a Miami team. Yes, it’s still kicking around, almost three years after the celebrity soccer star arrived in Miami with much fanfare to announce he would privately build a new stadium for the brand new team.
The announcement made worldwide news back in February 2014. However, where to build the stadium has been a continuing series of disappointments, not to mention stops and starts.
First, Mr. Beckman desperately wanted a waterfront stadium on Biscayne Bay. Unfortunately, the downtown Miami site he coveted was adjacent to the Royal Caribbean Cruises’ headquarters. The cruise line balked, and Mr. Beckman and his investors were shooed away from their dream spot.
Since then, the project has bounced around the county like a nomad.
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Last week, the head of Major League Soccer gently, but firmly, gave the Beckham team of investors an ultimatum: Seal the deal, or move on.
As painful as that might be, it’s wise advice.
“Everybody needs to understand, including David and his partners, that we’ve worked hard, and it’s time for us to reach a conclusion,” Don Garber said of the proposed Miami team during a conference call with reporters to discuss the 20-team league’s future expansion.
Many in Miami-Dade, including private-sector parties, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, Miami-Dade and School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, at different times have stepped up to try to find a suitable home for Mr. Beckham’s stadium.
It’s obvious the league really wants a Miami franchise. With our large Latin American and Caribbean population, it rightly sees the team as a gateway to drawing hardcore international fans.
Mr. Beckham also wants the team in Miami. He is a wonderful fan of the area and has made it clear he’s not interested in other cities.
But time is no longer on Mr. Beckham’s side.
He and his partners appear to be taking a long time in coming up with what they believe is the perfect group of investors for the $150 million stadium, and they are still negotiating for that final piece of county-owned land.
Earlier this year, Mr. Beckham’s ownership group paid $19 million for six acres of private land in Overtown, the bulk of what’s needed for a 25,000-seat stadium.
But the group, Miami Beckham United, still needs three acres of adjoining land owned by Miami-Dade County.
The county is ready to sell, but Mr. Beckham’s representatives have delayed negotiations over what they say is a need for more investors in the MLS deal.
After waiting more than 30 months, it’s hard to say the league has not bent over backwards, but at some point in the not-too-distant future, it will move on without Miami if a deal can’t get done. That would be a shame.
Mr. Beckham should impose a deadline on his own project. And here’s why: When projects like this go on too long without culmination, they acquire a sense of desperation, a bad karma, one that could tarnish the very cool component Mr. Beckham’s participation brought to the project.
A deadline should be set and, if not met, maybe we sadly say goodbye to our MLS expansion team — and the charming Mr. Beckham.
We hope, however, it won’t come to that.