Monday, March 24, 2014
Sounds Like Money To Me
Retired soccer star David Beckham and the Miami-based Major League Soccer franchise he was recently awarded will unveil their plans for a stadium in PortMiami, the Miami Herald reports.
There is no timetable for the new team to begin play yet, as it is at least partly incumbent on a stadium plan coming together. But the designs for the venue, set to be released on Monday, are as ambitious as they are tempting to a sport still seeking to make inroads in most major American markets.
The open-air stadium would be located on Dodge Island, a spit of land wedged between downtown Miami and Miami Beach, facing the city and the Miami Heat's American Airlines Arena just across the water. The land is in need of redeveloping and currently used primarily to board and unload cruise ships.
The handsome-looking facility, with a swirling, open canopy allowing for city views and the sea breeze to cut in, would be surrounded by a plaza that would allow for public screenings as well as shops, eateries with terraces, other retail establishments, a nightclub and, according to the Herald, potentially a Beckham museum. The facility would be connected to the mainland by converting a disused drawbridge to a pedestrian park.
Beckham previously said he hoped to emulate a European experience with a walkable downtown stadium. This would help solve the primary concern with this site for a soccer stadium: traffic and parking. Royal Caribbean Cruises, the main tenant of the port, isn't keen on extra traffic snarling up the island. Beckham's group counters that games would mostly take place at night, when there are no cruise ships loading or unloading - although at present, many weekend MLS games take place in the afternoon - and that downtown parking would be within easy walking distance.
Beckham's plans currently envision a 20,000 to 25,000-seat facility but that number could be expanded to 40,000 if talks with the University of Miami for the stadium to double as a college football venue prove fruitful.
The group has said publicly that it would pay rent for public land and would expect no public funds to defray the cost of construction. But it would seek a sales-tax rebate, like every other professional sports team in Florida. And it expects help with the construction of a parking garage and the repurposing of the bridge, whether public or private.
Since the preferred locale is contested, the team is also in talks about lots by Marlins Park, Miami International Airport and Florida International University.