Hey, did MLS just shake down David Beckham for stadium money by threatening him with Sacramento?

Remember back when David Beckham was insisting that he needed to have a waterfront site for his MLS team’s stadium, or the whole Miami franchise deal wasn’t going to work? That’s before he switched gears to go for a stadium next to Marlins Park — and now that that plan is apparently dead, it didn’t even take Beckham a week to come up with still another site:

“Miami Beckham United has secured a stadium development site at 650 Northwest 8th Street in the City of Miami’s historic Overtown neighborhood,” the team said in a statement. “We intend to create an assemblage of private and County-controlled land totaling approximately 9 acres in Miami’s urban core, within walking distance of multiple public transit options and the up-and-coming Miami River District. The private properties, which comprise the majority of the land, are under contract and we intend to purchase the County land at fair market value pending approval of our site by the MLS Board of Governors.”

The press statement goes on to say that the stadium construction will be privately funded, and the Miami Herald cited sources saying that Beckham won’t even ask for property-tax breaks on the site.

All of which is a press release, of course, and one issued on the traditional ask-us-no-questions day of Friday, so best take it with at least one grain of salt. But the day has another significance as well: The MLS Board of Governors is meeting tomorrow to discuss expansion plans, and with commissioner Don Garber yesterday having left the door open to giving Sacramento a franchise ahead of Miami if its stadium plans were ready first, Beckham apparently was frantic enough to pull together any stadium plan he could, stat.

This would be a weird dynamic, needless to say — a league effectively threatening prospective owners into upping their own contributions by playing them off against each other — but then, MLS is a weird league. It’s not really popular enough to shake down cities for huge subsidies (with a few exceptions), and its business model of late has appeared to be more about making money by luring in new owners hopeful that it’s going to be the next big thing, and then getting them to ante up as much money as possible for expansion franchises. So a bidding war among would-be owners rather than would-be cities actually kind of makes sense, even if it’s not the typical sports M.O.

Anyway, Beckham’s getting this franchise for a bargain-basement $25 million thanks to a clause in the contract he signed when agreed to play in the U.S., so he has plenty of money to spend on a stadium. Not that having plenty of money usually stops anyone else from trying to demand subsidies, but like I said, MLS is weird.


16 comments on “Hey, did MLS just shake down David Beckham for stadium money by threatening him with Sacramento?

  1. This is the best news Sacramento has had in at least 5 years. Thanks, David!

    I’m quite happy about this.

  2. This shouldn’t discount the efforts made by the Sacramento Republic and the fans who support them. They have done a remarkable job and are deserving of having their franchise in the MLS.

  3. Sacramento is going to end up being the next expansion city once the league decides to open more slots.

  4. Damn, He could get a much better deal in San Diego and it’s waterfront property if we ever get rain.

  5. If you take MLS at its word, they were looking for 4 cities into which to expand to 24 teams by 2020. Miami is the fourth team. So if Sacramento does join MLS, I’m not sure how it can happen before 2020.

    This does change things for the better, because Sacramento is going to have plenty of fiscal and traffic issues by 2020 to not have to deal with cramming more people into this small corner. The question will become, “Okay, so how are we going to squeeze another high-volume facility into this area?” And hopefully, cooler heads will prevail.

    As someone who works just a few blocks from the new arena, I’m not looking forward to traffic jams every other day (they’re saying 180 events/year). I do not want it. This is a poor plan.

  6. Actually, downtown Sacramento is one of those areas where there are numerous public transportation options to alleviate crowd size. In fact, I believe traffic issues will be handled much better than what you see in Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and Santa Clara.

  7. And the distance from that single lane 5 freeway entrance to the connecting freeways in Sacramento is less than 3 miles. I’m pretty sure that can be easily managed.

  8. Overtown?? Is he serious??!! Ask soccer fans how safe they would feel walking through that part of Overtown. The median annual income in that part of Miami is $21,000 per year.

  9. I looked up this location. Frankly not the place where most people would choose to go. And yes it’s “close” to a station and near the highway. But undoubtedly parking would be an issue and a short walk wouldn’t generally be recommended.

    But hey let’s build a soccer stadium!

  10. Let’s be realistic, Neil. Granted, there are cases where stadium location is irrelevant. Most past and present stadiums in California are in less than desirable locations. However, the parcel of land purchased by Beckham’s cohorts will require a greater emphasis on pedestrian activity. Either that neighborhood is going to be completely gentrified, or the soccer team is going to spend quite a bit of money hiring the Miami Police Department to serve as security for their patrons.

  11. In every sports stadium neighborhood, the vast majority of arrests during games are of fans, not local residents. And that includes Yankee Stadium, which has long been in one of the highest-crime neighborhoods anywhere (and which still draws huge crowds regardless).

    But mostly, my point was that you’re conflating “poor people” with “high crime,” which is not always true in the least.

  12. Yankee Stadium, much like the Oakland Coliseum Complex, have direct routes for their patrons which grant them immediate access to public transportation facilities. Without additional, designated parking facilities being proposed for the prospective location, and the nearest light rail located approximately one mile away, the reality is many attending soccer fans will become pedestrians in a high crime area.