Elephants fight over proposed Miami MLS stadium, grass not heard from

Awright! We have a full-fledged stadium controversy underway in Miami, which in daily news media terms is defined as one where there’s a corporate titan on each side:

John Alschuler, the New York-based real-estate adviser for David Beckham, the retired English player who wants to build a home for his new franchise at the seaport, squabbled on local television with John Fox, a former Royal Caribbean Cruises vice president who is leading the opposition against the waterfront site.

Royal Caribbean is currently the main landholder at the seaport, and Alschuler charged that the cruise ship company pays below-market rent for its port properties — though Beckham officials have also “pushed back against” estimates by a port consultant that fair-market rent on the property they want would be $3 million a year, according to the Miami Herald. The dispute between the two sides mostly comes down to whether both could happily coexist without getting in each other’s way, which led to the unusual sight of a would-be stadium developer promising that its building would be great because it would be empty 340 days a year.
As for actually paying for it, Beckham insists that, despite a price tag that is now up to $250 million thanks to the need to raise it above flood levels, he’ll pay the costs himself. Except for the $2 million a year in state sales tax kickbacks he wants, of course. And rent breaks, if that $3 million figure turns out to be accurate and Beckham wants to pay less. And a full exemption from paying property taxes. Most of the total cost would probably still land on Beckham, but there’s enough fine print here that it’d be nice to see a full financing plan before passing judgment on what kind of deal this would be for Miami taxpayers, let alone cruise ship operators.

18 comments on “Elephants fight over proposed Miami MLS stadium, grass not heard from

  1. All this for a soccer stadium that will be half-empty on the days it will actually be used, by the time Becks sells his stake in the team.

    Miami uber alles, Sports-Industrial Complex uber alles.

  2. Royal Caribbean is currently using the land in question for free as their parking lot. Also I bet the stadium will be less empty than the Marlins. Why doesn’t make the Royal just make a better offer for the land, maybe because they want it rent free and city subsidies reserved for baseball bailouts.

  3. Is there ever such a thing as “fair-market” rent for large public-private partnerships that involve tourist dollars in highly-visible parts of cities? It seems to me that any situation like that is necessarily going to involve complicated tax exemption and kickback schemes, and throwing around the word “fair-market” is a negotiating ploy.

  4. Better yet, why can’t the Miami MLS team appease Fishgod and play at the Marlins Stadium? Or is second-rate soccer played before third-rate fans in a baseball stadium only a New York kind of thing?

  5. In case you haven’t checked this out on a map, they’re talking about putting a stadium on an island that has one bridge connecting it to the mainland – with downtown Miami at the other end of the bridge. That’s hardly an ideal situation for the world’s busiest cruise port, let alone the cruise port plus a major cargo facility plus a 25,000 seat stadium.

  6. Beckham is offering 2m a year rental , all Royal and others have to do is match that offer instead of using land for free while asking for additional money all while that entire island is losing money for the tax payers. Put up or shut up. As for the haters, 1million boys play hockey in north America, about 30million play soccer. Am I impressed with NHL play Yes, and MLS play, about 30 times more impressed. BTW college and Nfl get their players from a total of One million high school players.

  7. 30+ million kids play video games too – it doesn’t mean there’s a market to watch them do so as adults.

  8. I meant to say:

    Actually there is, it’s just not as developed in this country.

    I have no idea on why it came out so weird when I typed it.

  9. “… while that entire island is losing money for the tax payers.”

    That’s pretty funny: Over 4 million cruise passengers a year and more than 7 million tons of cargo shipped annually. That’s probably more economic activity than all of MLS combined, so I think “tax payers” are doing just fine with how the island is currently used.

  10. Every article I’ve read about the this port says no money will be made until 2015 if at all. No one is claiming it’s merits as a business. It’s easy to make vague comments and ignore the facts and offer on the table. Put up or shut up!

  11. How long before Garber calls the former player to quote him a line from Blazing Saddles: “we’ve got to protect our phony baloney jobs”

    It’s really funny that this is happening in Florida, where apparently the state gov’t believes no professional sports franchise owner should ever have to spend a dime of his own money on a stadium.

  12. There may be room for considering alternative developments for that site, but a soccer stadium would likely be one of the worst uses of that property, since it is nearly always vacant. If there are questions about the rent/freehold, offer the spot openly and see what “developers” come up with.

    As David Beckham himself would know, nearly no soccer stadium in Europe is a “showpiece” centrally or dramatically situated on the city’s most valuable land (unless it turned out that way years after it was built, like Chelsea FC). Even the newer ones tend to be further out of the city center, and most are purely functional (or less so) in design. America seems to be unique in belief in the restorative powers of stadiums, maybe because governments pay for them here.

    I do like the emerging “logical” connection of MLS fans–kids play the game, so waste money on us too!

  13. In this country cities and states bid against each other. When all is said and done the private business ends up with a sweet deal. Which is the reason this port so far is losing money. You have all these Ports on the east coast all undercutting each other for the same business.

  14. LOL at the claims that soccer’s “lack of development” is the reason that nobody (when a big TV aud gets a 0.15 rating, that’s statistically close enough to “nobody”) watches MLS. Tons of kids have played soccer for 40 years. Fact is that Americans like other sports better and that American soccer fans find MLS to be a minor league sport supported by the most annoying of fans.

  15. I’ve now deleted several comments here that were flagrant violations of the “no personal attacks” rule. A reminder, everyone: You are free to say anything you want about other commenters’ opinions, but not about the commenters themselves. Repeat violators will get a seat in the time-out chair.

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