Update 6/9/2018: Beckham and financier Jorge Mas are now proposing building the stadium at the Melreese Park golf course site near Kendall.
David Beckham formally announced his plans to bring a Major League Soccer team to Miami back in 2014. Hilariously, Beckham said at the time that he assumed the team would start playing in Miami by 2016 or 2017. In hindsight, that turned out to be little more than a joke — those Brits and their wry humor! In all seriousness, Beckham hadn't yet secured a site for the team to play, and rumors had been tossed around the city for years as to where a stadium would go.
But this being Miami, pretty much every location the Beckham camp and the county proposed has proven to be a dreadful option. This week, MLS itself announced that it's going to start "negotiating" to finally award Beckham a team, but there are apparently still some hurdles to clear before the deal can close. In celebration, here's a look back at all the failed places the team has pitched for a stadium location in the half-decade the plan has been kicked around:
1. PortMiami (2013):
The proposed stadium would constitute one prong among many in the development of the port into a playground for the world's elite. There will be a hotel, offices, and something called a "mega-yacht facility." But the crowning jewel will be Beckham's stadium.
The issues with this proposal are manifold, but almost all of them can be encapsulated in one world: traffic. The only way to access PortMiami is by Port Boulevard via NE Sixth Street — which also happens to be the busiest spot in the entire city. Take a closer look.
2. A boat slip jutting out into Biscayne Bay (2014):
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.
David Beckham continues having possible soccer stadium sites waved in front of him only to see them snatched away. The latest idea: building a stadium on the old site of the Miami Herald building, though that plan certainly seems like a stretch.
Major League Soccer and Beckham are adamant about building a soccer stadium for the city's planned new team somewhere in Miami's urban core, preferably on the water.
The old Miami Herald site fits that criteria, but as you might remember, it was bought by Malaysian conglomerate Genting for around $236 million in 2011. The company had planned to build a destination resort and casino on the property but was unable to get the Florida Legislature to legalize gambling in the state.
Last time Miami got a Major League Soccer team, it actually played in Fort Lauderdale. Could history be repeating itself? The Miami Herald reports David Beckham and his Miami Beckham United partners are set to talk to Broward County commissioners about the possibility of building a stadium there.
Is it an actual possibility or a bit of a negotiating move designed to scare leaders in Miami-Dade?
First it was the Port of Miami. Then a boat slip next to the American Airlines Arena. Finally, with a plot next to Marlins Park in Little Havana it seemed like David Beckham's group had at last found a spot to build a stadium for a new Major League Soccer franchise.
But now those Little Havana plans are also all but dead, killed by hold-out private landowners demanding millions for their buildings.
After four years and an absurd hopscotch around Dade County in search of a stadium site, David Beckham and his partners are closer than ever to finally bringing a Major League Soccer team to Miami. Commissioners voted 9-4 this afternoon to sell a county-owned parcel of land in Overtown to Beckham's group for $9 million — the final piece of land needed to begin work on a stadium next to the Miami River.
The vote came after a contentious meeting where residents of nearby Spring Garden complained their quality of life would be wrecked by the massive project and concerns from commissioners that the county wasn't getting enough promises from MLS to improve transit or boost school budgets.
The rumors spiked across Twitter on Friday: David Beckham was finally ready to pull the plug on his tortured attempts to bring Major League Soccer back to Miami. Instead, one soccer writer suggested, he was turning his sights to the more pliable city of Las Vegas.
The sketchily sourced news had the ring of truth. It's been more than a thousand days since Beckham promised top-tier fùtbol in South Florida. He's now on his fourth stadium plan after watching politicians scuttle idea after idea. His fabled "search for investors" is beginning to feel like the hunt for Jimmy Hoffa's body.
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If Bruce Matheson wants to tank a real-estate deal, the heir to one of the richest and oldest families in all of Miami knows how to do it. Through sheer force of will, he has successfully prevented the ultrarich owners of the Miami Open tennis tournament from plowing over portions of Crandon Park. He's mounting a battle to stop Florida International University from buying the public Tamiami Park.
And now he's funding a new lawsuit in an attempt to kill soccer star David Beckham's plan to build a huge stadium in one of Miami's poorest neighborhoods. Matheson alleges the county broke state law by handing Beckham land in Overtown in a no-bid deal — and that by doing so, the stadium will destroy the neighborhood's quality of life, a fear some Overtown residents have also expressed at public meetings.
Wait, what happened to the Overtown Stadium?
Last we heard from Beckham, MLS was throwing a giant party at the Adrienne Arsht Center to "officially" give Miami a franchise. At that point, Becks was still committed to building a shiny new stadium right in the middle of Overtown, and his partners had spent millions acquiring land near the river to make it happen.
But then Jorge Mas and his brother, Jose, joined the ownership group and basically said, "Nah." It didn't help that wealthy Miami activist Bruce Matheson had an ongoing lawsuit against the project and that local sentiments in Overtown ranged from skeptical to "Get the hell outta here."
So how many damn sites has Beckham tried to build a stadium on now?
The Melreese project is the fifth seriously considered site. Beckham previously tried the Port of Miami (killed by cruise ship interests), a waterfront plot in Museum Park (no-go with commissioners), a Little Havana plot near Marlins Park (murdered by Miami's hatred for Marlins Park), and Overtown. On to Melreese!
OK, so what would the city get out of letting Beckham take over its golf course?
Rent, for one thing. Beckham's group will propose paying $4 million to $5 million annually in rent to Miami, the Herald reports, as well as county taxes on the 73-acre complex, a sum that could reach $44 million annually.
Is there opposition to the Melreese site?
You betcha! The golf community, as you might expect, is pretty salty about the idea of paving over the only city-owned course in Miami to let a bunch of dudes with European haircuts run around with a soccer ball. Commissioner Willy Gort, whose district includes Melreese, says he's against the plan and cites youth golf camps the city runs at the course.
Also, as Al Crespo noted this morning, expect plenty of pushback at the idea of a private company getting city land to run their business on with a no-bid deal. If the Mas plan comes to fruition, those hundreds of thousands of square feet of office and retail space could be a gigantic cash cow for the developers — all on taxpayer-owned land.