Guess it’s on to Plan C.
David Beckham’s desire to build a soccer stadium, with $250 million in private funding, but on city of Miami waterfront, has been thwarted — again.
Mayor Tomás Regalado and City Manager Daniel Alfonso broke the bad news to Mr. Beckham and his group telling them, “No goal” — at least not yet. But the FEC boat slip next to American-Airlines Arena is off-limits for a stadium. As attractive as the prospect of Miami’s own Major League Soccer team appears, downtown’s dwindling accessible waterfront simply cannot be up for grabs for every private interest with bayside dreams.
In a city and county that have gotten it wrong too many times in their stewardship of public spaces, Mr. Regalado and Mr. Alfonso got this one right. There was not enough support to give Mr. Beckham what he wanted, even though he’s offering to build a stadium with private money and pay the city $2 million a year. The mayor stood on the side of the people — including a considerable number of environmentalists, architects and urban planners — who said that Museum Park should be just that, a park, seamless, green, inviting and without further development.
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And that is precisely the vision, laid out in master plans, that should be realized sooner rather than later. All need to remember that when it comes to green space in large metropolitan areas across the country, Miami falls short.
Mr. Beckham should be getting the message by now: A soccer team? Oh yeah! A privately funded stadium? OK. On downtown’s waterfront? Uh-uh. But Mr. Beckham and his team shouldn’t take their marbles and go elsewhere before modifying their expectations and giving other sites their due.
Before the boat slip was dangled, the Beckham team had its heart set on a waterfront parking lot at PortMiami. But in the face of opposition from a broad swath of business and government interests, most notably Royal Caribbean — it was the cruise company’s parking lot, after all — that location was scrapped.
Perhaps there is an appropriate location somewhere along another body of water. In 2001, a site along the Miami River just west of downtown proper was under serious consideration — culminating in an unsuccessful City Commission vote — when the then-Florida Marlins was looking to build a new baseball stadium. Marlins Park ultimately replaced the Orange Bowl in Little Havana.
It must be frustrating for Mr. Beckham and his partners to know that the community really wants soccer, but not a stadium where they want to build it.
They rejected building next to Marlins Park, not wanting to be associated with such a taxpayer debacle — “spiritually tainted,” said one Beckham colleague — and a lackluster neighborhood. Who can blame them? Sun Life Stadium, where many soccer matches are played, might be an option, with potential upgrades now being considered.
Other city leaders would love to get Mr. Beckham to bring his franchise to their cities. Joy Cooper, the mayor of Hallandale Beach, offered the Beckham group land near the water. In Miami, even as he rejected Mr. Beckham’s plan, Mayor Regalado told him not to give up on the city. That’s good counsel. The retired soccer superstar can still score a goal.