David Beckham's aspirations for a new Major League Soccer stadium at PortMiami have lately been going about as well as Liverpool's title chase. That's an English soccer joke, people. They're not going well! Faced with stiff opposition from Royal Caribbean and competing developers, Beckham's proposal has begun to look politically toxic, raising the question of whether MLS will come to the Magic City after all.
But Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez opened the possibility of a new option yesterday: a downtown waterfront stadium for Becks that's not at the port. Instead, he suggested, the soccer field could be built on a huge boat slip just north of the American Airlines Arena.
The long, unused stretch of water called the FEC Slip runs between the southern tip of Museum Park and the northern edge of the AA Arena. Gimenez suggested the water could be filled in, creating enough new waterfront park space to fit an MLS stadium.
Even better, the mayor said, that location would factor into Miami's plans to create an uninterrupted green and pedestrian space from the Miami River north to the new Pérez Art Museum and the Adrienne Arsht Center.
"Downtown Miami will benefit greatly from the creation of a grand waterfront park," Gimenez wrote. "Combining this area and filling in the FEC Slip will also expand the amount of publicly accessible waterfront open space, turning this underutilized land into a shared public space."
The county promised to finish a thorough analysis of the area for Beckham's group within two weeks, and Beckham's group sent the Miami Herald a statement promising to consider it. "Our goal from the outset has been to create a great fan experience, to provide an economic asset that creates jobs, and design a stadium that communicates the energy of Miami to the entire world," the group told the daily. "The Port is a strong site; however, a stadium next to AmericanAirlines Arena is an exciting possibility."
Beckham and his investors are clearly enamored with the PortMiami plan, and his group won approval in Tallahassee last week to seek state funding for his project. And Gimenez's idea surely would add significant new costs for taxpayers to fund a public works project large enough to make the land suitable for a massive new stadium.
But the mayor's letter is a heartening reminder to soccer backers that it's not necessarily PortMiami or the highway (or, gulp, West Miami-Dade) for MLS in South Florida.
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Here's the mayor's letter on the new proposal: