Beckham co-owner says Overtown site is too small, throws stadium plans into disarray for umpteenth time

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?


18 comments on “Beckham co-owner says Overtown site is too small, throws stadium plans into disarray for umpteenth time

  1. In my dream world, baseball would leave Florida, and Bex would convert Marlin stadium into an amazing soccer stadium.

    • The Red Grooms sculpture going off after a home goal would be pretty excellent, I’ve gotta say.

    • The sad part is the Orange Bowl site (without Marlins Park) would have been an excellent place to put a soccer stadium.

  2. I think you’ve hit on the solution within the article… what city would be a better home for a floating stadium than one which is increasingly underneath the sea anyway?

    If a floating stadium was built, it wouldn’t need flood insurance. And since it is moveable, it would not be subject to taxation (mobile structures are not considered land improvements… and are not on actual land anyway…).

    Sure, you’ve got docking fees to consider, but maybe you can get the businesses around whatever site you dock at to cover those… and with a moveable stadium, you can shake down locals in multiple districts to bring individual home games to their “port”… just like cruise companies make significant income from what are effectively bribes to bring the customers to specific locations.

    Why just extort one district once every 35 years when you can potentially do it 20 times a year?

    • Depending on the state, floating properties (floating homes, usually) are generally taxed as taxable personal property. Not that the owner wouldn’t get the taxes waived.

      • If the taxes you are referring to are property taxes, these homes would be floating on a body of water that is zoned municipal land I assume? Live aboard boats generally aren’t taxed directly, however some portion of their mooring fees will go to pay taxes on the marina improvements.

        “This” would presumably be an ocean going stadium…

        • I can only speak to my experience in Oregon, but the underlying jurisdiction or it’s zoning wouldn’t matter. In my county it’s all floating homes (intended to be moved very infrequently and with permanent utility hook ups) on large rivers; the state owns the land underneath and the moorage area is rented on a long term lease by a party that leases spaces out to the floating home owners. Basically a mobile home park on water (with much nicer homes). An actual boat intended to be navigated is not subject to county property taxation (it’s treated more like a car and is taxed via state licensure).

        • Property taxes. Every state is different, and I can only speak to my experience in Oregon (I appraise residential property for a county), but here a floating home is not intended to be moved regularly, can’t move under it’s own power, and has permanent utility hook ups. An actual boat intended for navigation is not considered a floating home.

    • Plus it would provide headline writers with 2 or 3 years of easy work. “Miami sinks in standings” “Miami runs aground.” “Bex boys bang berg, sink out of first.” “Hillary/Obama conspire to fix soccer game” (that’s from the Enquirer.)

    • More of a floating field/pitch. The stands are all on shore, but it’s a similar concept.

  3. In a perfect world pulling a Seattle & re-renovating whatever they currently call Joe Robbie Stadium for soccer would of made too much sense.

    • Did the recent renovation reduce the width of the field? It used to be very wide, making it easy to host soccer matches.

      • Real Madrid and Barcelona played there in July. Not sure what the field dimensions were, but if they were good enough for those two teams, they’d be fine for MLS. Problem with Dolphin stadium is not a great location. But if NYFC can make Yankee Stadium work, Miami could make Marlins stadium work. (except for the who controls the revenue issue.)