Bwahahaha, oh man, okay, hang on, let me catch my breath and recap here, then you’ll see what’s so funny about today’s news from the Miami Herald.
Back when David Beckham announced his Miami MLS stadium plans for Overtown back in the late Pleistocene (okay, December 2015), it was immediately clear that the site he’d picked was pretty damn small for a big-league soccer stadium: only 9 acres, whereas the New York Red Bulls‘ arena in Harrison, N.J., for example, takes up 12 acres. (And Red Bull Arena is nobody’s idea of a big-scale mallpark, though it’s certainly functional enough.) As I wrote at the time:
I’m a fan of stadiums squeezed into tight spaces, but still, this looks an awfully difficult fit, even without getting into the parking issues. Which is Beckham’s problem if he goes ahead with it, but still.
Then came the stadium renderings, which hilariously involved the stadium resting atop parked cars:
But okay, who are we to say that a good stadium can’t be squoze in on a small site? If the owners of the team are up for it, and they’re the ones paying, more power to them!
Which brings us to today’s news item from the Miami Herald:
New David Beckham partner Jorge Mas boasts of a bold, high-tech vision for a Miami soccer stadium. And that could get complicated. Mas also says the nine-acre site in Overtown that the Beckham group secured for the venue two years ago just isn’t large enough to match his ambitions.
“I want to make it the most technologically advanced, futuristic stadium in the country,” Mas said in an interview this week. “Obviously, you need more than nine acres for that. We’ve been exploring the surrounding area in terms of: What can we do to put this all together?”
I mean, what the actual what? Sure, Mas wasn’t on board in 2015 when this plan was concocted. But what kind of team ownership group puts forward a proposal for a new stadium, spends more than two years lobbying for it, then belatedly says, “Oh, by the way, this is too small, we need more room?”
The obvious conclusion is that Mas is either angling for city help in obtaining adjacent land to make an Overtown stadium bigger — to do so he’d either have to close more streets or offload some kitchen facilities and such to adjacent buildings, as the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs have done — or angling for an entirely new site elsewhere in Miami. (Mas says he needs more space for “tech investment,” which who the hell knows what that means. Does Ethernet cable take up that much room?) If the team does choose a new site, that would make it three separate locations (waterfront, next to Marlins stadium, Overtown) that Beckham’s group has selected with great fanfare and then given up on, so I’m now at the point where I’m only going to believe in a stadium site once I see actual steel in the ground.
If nothing else, Mas’s statements clearly mean that the stadium issue is far from settled — he floated the idea of adding “workforce housing” as a way to obtain land, which again, who the hell knows — and anytime new plans are in the offing, there’s the worry about new demands for public money as well. If you own a professional sports franchise but it never has an opening date, does it make a sound?