David Beckham made it official today: He wants to build a soccer stadium next to Marlins Park near the site of the old Orange Bowl. In a letter sent to Mayor Tomas Regalado, Beckham and his partners pledge a "world-class stadium" on the site — while offering scant few specifics on exactly what they're plotting.
"We firmly believe we can build a world-class stadium at the site," Beckham's group writes.
News of the pending push to build an MLS park next to the Marlins' home field leaked to the press last Friday; the site has always been the favorite to land a pro soccer field after Beckham's first two pushes to build a stadium on the waterfront fizzled.
Today's letter solidifies that intent, and adds that MLS officials have been visiting the area and "are supportive of our efforts to build a soccer-specific stadium on the site," Beckham's group writes.
The City Commission is expected to take up the idea at its meeting tomorrow, but there are still few exact details to debate. Word is Beckham's group plans to privately fund the stadium, but what about the land, which is largely city owned? Will taxpayers get rent in the deal?
And what about residents who live in the area? NBC Miami reported yesterday that longtime residents at nearby apartment buildings are already afraid they'll get booted to make room for the stadium. That's already got one key Miami commissioner, Frank Carollo, up in arms about the proposal.
Commissioner Francis Suarez tells New Times he expects the commission tomorrow to officially approve a negotiation between Beckham United and the city. He said he's waiting for more details on the project and also worries about the prospect of displacing residents.
"My concerns are several. An obvious and potentially huge one would be the displacement of residents," Suarez says. "Another is the financial underpinnings of the deal. But the devil is in the details. It's so vague at this point it's hard to say for sure."
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Here's his group's full statement on the letter:
“David, Simon and Marcelo have officially notified Mayor Regalado and the City of Miami of their intent to develop a world-class soccer stadium on the former Orange Bowl site in Little Havana. Miami Beckham United looks forward to entering into formal discussions with the City and, ultimately, Miami-Dade County en route to launching an MLS club in Miami within the coming years. Exact timing and important details will be agreed upon shortly, but two things are for certain: the soccer stadium will be privately funded without taxpayer dollars, and the finished product will be something that makes the South Florida community proud.”
Here's Beckham's full letter, which — as of 1 p.m. — still hadn't actually made its way to city hall. A spokesman for Regalado, when asked for a copy, told New Times, "as soon as we receive the letter we'll send it to you."