After six months of silence, the past couple of weeks have brought plenty of rumors about where David Beckham will build his soccer stadium. MLS insists it must be downtown. City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff suggested the old Miami Herald site. Someone even mooted the possibility of building it in Broward.
But County Commissioner Xavier Suarez says he believes there are two spots in contention for the stadium. The most surprising option is an old boatyard on the Miami River near Miami International Airport. Could Beckham really build his glamorous sports enterprise on the edge of Allapattah?
"You might have a nice little entertainment center there," says Suarez, who claims even Pitbull is excited about the location. "People from all over the world would come to Miami, fly into the airport, stay at [a proposed new] hotel, and catch a game. It becomes a nice little hub."
A spokesman for Beckham did not return a request for comment.
Suarez, the former mayor of Miami and a potential candidate for county mayor, admits he has been pushing the Bertram boatyard for a while.
According to Suarez, developer Masoud Shojaee has slowly collected 21 acres near where NW 21st Street meets the river. County property records list the block of land as belonging to MMM NW 37 LLC, but little information about that company is available.
Suarez says he's had extensive talks with Shojaee, Coral Gables Commissioner Vince Lago, Beckham's real-estate adviser John Alschuler, and even Pitbull about the site. All have expressed serious interest, Suarez says.
The site is roughly large enough for an MLS stadium, Suarez says, and could be easily linked with both the Miami Intermodal Center (MIC) and a new hotel to be built nearby.
"You have a nucleus of activity which might have its own critical mass, particularly if you build a stadium and start holding games and events there," Suarez says.
Plus, it would put the stadium on the water -- just not Biscayne Bay, as Beckham would have preferred.
While the entertainment side of the idea appeals to Pitbull, Lago would like Beckham's stadium to serve as a home for the University of Miami's football team. Suarez says Alschuler has even run computer simulations of what a stadium at the site would look like.
Suarez says he has recently spoken to serious players in the stadium negotiations and understands that the boatyard is a real possibility.
The other site still in the running is next to Marlins Park, a location that was initially dismissed by Beckham partner Simon Fuller as "spiritually tainted."
But Suarez, who also supports the Marlins site, says the stain of the baseball stadium fiasco is slowly fading. Besides, "when you're talking about a guy like Beckham, everyone is going to forget all that," he says. "With the retractable roof providing shade, you can have some nice parties between the two stadiums."
The commissioner says both the Marlins' stadium site and the Bertram boatyard fall under the broader definition of "downtown" that Beckham's group is now using.
The boatyard is "the demographic center of the county," according to Suarez, and "is going to have a helluva lot of transportation options."
It would also be relatively cheap. The only downside is that it is not a spot to which people can easily walk -- something Beckham had aimed for with his two failed downtown proposals.
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