Beckham to talk with Broward County about talking about MLS stadium

That’s show Miami-Dade County for rejecting David Beckham’s preferred MLS stadium sites: Beckham is now threatening to move to Broward County instead, or threatening to think about moving to Broward County, or something like that:

[Broward County commissioner Stacy] Ritter said Brian Ballard, one of the team’s lobbyists, conveyed that Beckham’s group is now willing to listen to what Broward officials have to say. Those talks are expected soon, she said.

It’s too soon to tell the level of the Beckham group’s interest in this idea, but at least they told Ritter that Beckham & Co. are open to considering it.

So, either Broward is on the table, or it’s on the table as leverage to get Miami to give Beckham the waterfront site that he neeeeeeeeeds. One of those.

Beckham has rejected Miami-Dade’s proposed site near Marlins Park, incidentally, because he says it’s “spiritually tainted” by the Marlinsstadium fiasco. This spiritual taint issue is a new and potentially knotty problem — after all, if the vicinity of every prior development scam is off limits, there’s going to be nowhere left to build in Florida.

Miami mayor tells Beckham on stadium site: “The slip is off the table”

Finally up to speed with David Beckham’s plans for an MLS stadium in a public park by a filled-in boat slip that would be turned into new parkland? Good, now forget all that, because Miami city officials just stuck a giant fork in it:

Mayor Tomás Regalado and City Manager Daniel Alfonso told Beckham’s group thanks but no thanks when lead negotiator John Alschuler offered Miami $2 million a year in rent of sorts to make a deal.

That was “generous,” according to Alfonso, but neither he nor the mayor walked into the meeting with Alschuler intending to bargain. “Given the uniqueness of this site, we agreed that this was just not the right place,” Alfonso said.

“The slip is off the table,” Regalado said.

Regalado, you may recall, was a prime opponent of the Miami Marlins stadium deal, even attempting to take back $100 million in garage subsidies once it became clear that the team’s owners were just pocketing the profits. (He didn’t get very far, but he attempted.) Beckham has had more support from Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, but with the city controlling the land in this case, Regalado has effective veto power.

That’s two proposed stadium sites rejected in a little over a month for Beckham and Alschuler, who said yesterday that the team — which doesn’t actually exist yet, mind you, and won’t until it has a stadium deal in place — is going to “pause” and “consider all alternatives and look forward to constructive engagement.” I’m pretty sure that’s PR-speak for “WTF do we do now?”, so we may be in for a short pause in Miami MLS news.

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Miami, Beckham $207m apart on value of stadium land

I’ve been wondering for a while now how much of a bargain Miami was going to have to give David Beckham’s MLS ownership group as part of a deal for a new waterfront stadium in a public park, and the answer is: Nobody can agree on it, so they’re shutting down talks for a while.

For months, David Beckham’s Major League Soccer venture has said it will pay some sort of annual rent — “fair,” “market” or “reasonable” — to build a stadium on prime public land.

Yet the number Beckham’s representatives have floated in early talks with the city of Miami is so low that the city manager has called for the two sides to “take a breather.”

That figure: $500,000 a year, according to the city.

Miami says it has not countered with a figure of its own, but it’s far higher than $500,000 — as high as $12 million to $14 million, City Manager Daniel Alfonso said Monday.

“We’re just too far apart,” he told the Miami Herald.

That’s pretty far apart, yeah. How far? In present value (5% discount rate), over the term of a 30-year lease, $500,000 a year is worth about $7.7 million total. $14 million a year would be worth $215.2 million. So Beckham and the city of Miami are only $207.5 million apart on how to split the costs of a new arena. Yeah, this could take a while.

Meanwhile, the University of Miami’s football team has said it’s not interested in moving to an MLS stadium at the new boat-slip site, both because it has 18 years left on its lease at Sun Life Stadium, and because the new soccer site likely isn’t big enough to fit a football stadium anyway. Anyone for Plan C?

Beckham’s plan would build MLS stadium on Miami park, build park on water

David Beckham’s stadium czar John Alschuler has released a few more details about the group’s planned soccer stadium on a filled-in boat slip, including some really quickly rendered renderings that don’t show much. What we do know:

  • The stadium wouldn’t actually be built on the boat slip, so much as on land currently being developed as a public park, with the public park then being instead built on the boat slip behind the stadium.
  • There’s no parking. Reports the Miami Herald: “Beckham’s group says there are enough spaces in lots and garages around downtown if no soccer matches coincide with Miami Heat basketball games. Heat executives have said they are concerned about some of those parking spots disappearing as new developments break ground.”
  • The stadium would get a full exemption from property taxes (value not given), while the county would charge “some sort of rent” (per Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, per the Herald).
  • Beckham’s group wouldn’t reimburse the city for its $15 million in recent improvements to the boat slip, with Alschuler explaining, “If I own a Chevy and somebody says, ‘I’m going to replace it with a Cadillac,’ I should consider that a pretty fair transaction.”

There’s still a lot we don’t know, obviously, which helps explain why the Herald describes Miami city commissioners who heard Alschuler’s pitch as sounding “open to the project, if still hesitant given the lack of specifics.” The whole thing is tentatively headed for a November public ballot, which really isn’t a lot of time to figure out what the plan is or how it’s being paid for, but that hasn’t stopped anyone before.

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Beckham okays boat slip site for stadium, now just needs to figure out everything else about it

Prospective MLS expansion team owner David Beckham has announced that he’s going with the flow and endorsing the boat slip site for a new soccer stadium that Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez two weeks ago declared he was backing over the previous PortMiami site:

The decision to move away from the port site, a location that has drawn powerful opposition, came after Beckham’s group met at Miami City Hall with Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

“Our goal has always been to build a great stadium along the waterfront,” John Alschuler, Beckham’s real-estate adviser, said afterward. “We view this as a meaningful step in the right direction.”

There are still a lot of moving parts with this plan to be figured out, given that the site is partly owned by the city and partly by the county, and much of it is underwater and someone will have to pay for filling it in, and it’s not clear what Beckham’s group would pay in property taxes or rent. (The Miami Herald reports that Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado said there would be “some sort of” payment in lieu of taxes, and that Gimenez “said the county would require a rent payment.”) It’s a whole new plan, basically, which will require a whole new set of funding details. But until then we can still enjoy the requisite threat display:

Regalado said Beckham’s group said it will not seek an alternative if the voters don’t agree to a potential deal.

“If they fail the referendum, they will leave,” said Regalado.

Move over, NYC F.C.: We now have the first recorded example of a team not only threatening to move out of a town before it’s ever played a game there, but threatening to move out of town before it even officially exists. Can we name this the Beckham Paradox?

Beckham okays voter referendum on Miami MLS stadium, wherever it is

It looks like David Beckham’s MLS stadium plan, wherever the hell it ends up, will be subject to the approval of Miami voters:

Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado said the city will require a referendum if Beckham’s group settles on filling and then building on a city-owned deep-water basin, known as the Florida East Coast Railway slip, along Biscayne Boulevard.

And, in a new wrinkle, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said Wednesday that the county could also seek voter approval if Miami Beckham United asks to build on PortMiami’s southwest corner — even though a referendum would not be required for the county-owned property…

“The ultimate decision to build a stadium in downtown Miami should rest with voters,” John Alschuler, Beckham’s real-estate adviser, said in a statement. “If Miami Beckham United selects the FEC slip as the preferred stadium site, we will seek and fully support a voter referendum.”

Democracy! That’s good!

A voter referendum could take place as early as August, though November is a more likely possibility. One hopes that the run-up to the election will involve a serious discussion of the pros and cons of a soccer stadium on the Miami waterfront, and not just one side shouting “The Marlins deal sucked!” and the other “Soccer is a beautiful thing and will rain jobs from the sky!” — ah, forget it, we all know what’s going to happen. Maybe we can at least hope, though, that the debates end up being between Wild-Eyed Religious Guy Who Dressed In The Dark, Snuffy Smith, Tim McCarver, and Young Dan Aykroyd, like this one.

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Building a Miami MLS stadium on a too-small underwater site turns out not to be as easy as you’d think

When Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez made his surprise announcement last week that he’d ask David Beckham’s MLS expansion franchise group to move their stadium plans from PortMiami to a deep-water boat slip that would need to be filled in because it’s currently all water, it sounded easier said than done. And according to the Miami Herald, you bet it is:

There are new costs to weigh, environmental and building permits from federal, state and local agencies to request — and not one, but two municipal governments to persuade.

Beyond those logistical and political considerations is a broader question for elected leaders in Miami-Dade County and the city of Miami. Do they want to turn over the last remaining piece of public, open waterfront along Biscayne Boulevard to a private entity to build an imposing structure?

“You’re basically giving away public land,” said Laura Reynolds, the Tropical Audubon Society executive director, who has repeatedly fought attempts to fill the water basin over the years. She sent the county a letter Friday opposing it as a stadium site.

The estimated cost of filling in just three-quarters of the slip has previously been estimated at $17 million, the city would have to repay the Florida Inland Navigation District $3 million it received contingent on leaving the basin public for 25 years, and Miami commissioners passed a resolution in 2011 opposing any “actions or discussions” by the county to fill in the slip. Plus, presumably, you’d need to install a ton of infrastructure to support a soccer stadium on what’s now ocean water. And, let’s see, what else?

To fit a 25,000-seat soccer stadium, the building would have to encroach on the city-owned Museum Park next door. On two satellite images, county staff drew the outline of a nine-acre square — roughly the shape needed to construct a stadium — over the property. One had the square closer to the water; the other, closer to the boulevard, the location Gimenez said he prefers.

Museum Park is the former Bicentennial Park that the city and county paid millions to renovate as the home of the recently inaugurated Pérez Art Museum Miami and the under-construction Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science. The zoning there doesn’t allow stadiums, either.

Now we see why Gimenez and Beckham targeted PortMiami first, anyway. Next up: Finding out whether park advocates and the Audobon Society have as much pull as Royal Caribbean cruises.

Miami-Dade mayor switches gears, proposes MLS stadium on landfilled boat slip

David Beckham’s PortMiami MLS stadium plan may be opposed by a major cruise ship line and a bunch of local mayors, but at least he can rest assured that it has the steadfast backing of Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez wait what?

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez upended the negotiations with David Beckham and his investors Monday by proposing that the group consider building a Major League Soccer stadium on the downtown waterfront — but not at PortMiami.

Okay, that almost certainly sticks a fork in the PortMiami site, then. And where does Gimenez want Beckham to build instead, according to the Miami Herald?

As an alternative, Gimenez proposed filling a massive boat slip between Museum Park and AmericanAirlines Arena, which, according to the mayor, would create enough new land for a stadium as well as a pedestrian walkway along Biscayne Bay.

The Herald says that filling in the boat slip could be pricey — $10-16 million for the fill material alone — and the land (er, water? underwater land?) would have to be transferred from the city, which owns it, to the county. But Royal Caribbean isn’t opposed to the site, so apparently Gimenez feels that cutting one 800-pound gorilla from the mix is worth the tradeoff. Or he could just always kill two birds with one stone and fill the boat slip with 800-pound gorillas.


They will fight eternally: Royal Caribbean vs. Beckham

Miami’s Downtown Bay Forum held a public debate yesterday on David Beckham’s proposed MLS stadium at PortMiami, and while the main combatants continue to be Beckham vs. Royal Caribbean cruise lines, there’s a growing list of elected officials opposed to the site as well:

The group who opposes a Major League Soccer stadium at PortMiami announced Wednesday, they have now produced a petition signed by 11 mayors  who oppose a port stadium.

Among them are leaders of Miami Beach, Homestead, Pinecrest, South Miami, Coral Gables and Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall.

“I think it’s more about taxpayer’s property that needs to be put to a better use, left to cargo and jobs,” said MacDougall.

Of course, none of these people are mayor of Miami, where the stadium would actually go. And you have to imagine that they probably showed up because they were asked to by Royal Caribbean. But still, it qualifies as growing opposition to the site. (Nobody seems opposed to an MLS stadium in general.)

Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean lobbyist John Fox alleged that other cruise lines aren’t taking a stadium on the PortMiami proposal only because they’re seeking their own subsidies from the city:

Carnival’s owner, Micky Arison, also owns the Miami Heat, which is trying to extend its county lease for AmericanAirlines Arena. Norwegian’s top shareholder is Genting Hong Kong, part of the Malaysian-based conglomerate that includes Resorts World Miami, which runs a gambling ship out of PortMiami and hopes to build a casino resort at the site of the old Miami Herald building.

Royal Caribbean, meanwhile, has a lease that lets it pay less than half of market rate for its port property. But, you know, are anyone’s hands truly clean?

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.