After several months of planning and pitching, David Beckham's ownership group has been denied approval to construct a brand new soccer stadium for Beckham's Miami MLS team adjacent to American Airlines Arena.
The proposed stadium would have been constructed on top of an area that is now occupied by the deep-water Florida East Coast boat slip and a portion of city-owned park area known as Museum Park.
The downtown location was originally proposed to Beckham's group by Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado. However, after considerable deliberation, mayor Regalado and City Manager Daniel Alfonso finally nixed the idea on Tuesday afternoon after a meeting with John Alshuler, Beckham's real estate adviser.
There were an abundance of reasons for the decision. Many locals were concerned over the already horrendous traffic conditions in downtown Miami that adding a 20,000-seat soccer stadium would potentially worsen, given its planned location next to the home of the Miami Heat basketball team.
The sea-floor of the boat slip, which would have to be filled in to accommodate the new structure, is part of the Miami-Dade Aquatic Preserve; a state-protected environment that support a variety of aquatic life as well as a privately protected coral reef. Additionally, millions of dollars were spent on repairing the sea walls of the boat slip only a few years ago.
The decision means that the search for a stadium site continues, as this is the second location that has been shut down, causing a bit of grief for Beckham's group of investors, known as Miami Beckham United. In May, Miami-Dade County commissioners ruled out the originally planned site in PortMiami on Dodge Island, which was strongly opposed by Royal Carribbean cruise lines.
Miami Beckham United, which has favored waterfront locations for the stadium, has stated that the project would not have been funded with tax-payer money but largely with private dollars. In any event, given the timeline of construction, a new stadium would not be ready for use until 2018, meaning that the new team would be using a temporary stadium when it begins play, which the group has targeted for 2017.
The expansion team in Miami is a result of an option on Beckham's 2007 MLS contract with the Los Angeles Galaxy that gave him the right to own a new MLS franchise as a discounted fee of $25 million. After considering other locations including New York City, Beckham publicly announced his decision to bring a franchise to Miami in February.