Months after British soccer star David Beckham announceed his interest in starting a Major League Soccer team in Miami, the city has no designated MLS stadium, and therefore no MLS team.
For months, the frontrunner for the new home of Beckham's much-anticipated squad has been the former Orange Bowl site adjacent to Marlins Park in Little Havana — and last week there was also chatter, on the local soccer fan page Southern Legion, about a Metromover expansion to the site that would coincide with the team's arrival.
It's a damn good idea, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Xavier Suarez tells New Times.
"I think Miami's central core... really needs a connector to the Orange Bowl area," he says. "It's just self-evident to me."
Suarez, a former city mayor, says so far the plan for any kind of transportation expansion to the likely site was in the early stages — a few months ago County Commissioner Bruno Barreiro introduced, and then quickly withdrew, a plan to use CRA funds for new transit to the stadium. But Suarez emphasizes the importance of establishing a connection to the stadium, both for the initiative's appeal to residents and to MLS.
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"I personally negotiated most of the effort to get the NBA and MLB here," Suarez says. "And I know that when they throw something at you, you've got to come up with a plan." (Part of the county's agreement with the league to bring a new team here, Suarez says, was that the stadium be "part of the urban core and have good transit connections.")
With pressure building for local government to finally cement a deal for the stadium, the commissioner vowed to explore the feasibility of all transportation options, including the Metromover expansion and other forms of rubberized public transportation, such as trolleys.
"If we get MLS and a new stadium is built there," Suarez says, "we have a critical mass for some kind of transit connection."