Miami-Dade announces plan for Beckham MLS team to play at FIU stadium, Beckham remains uninterested

Big news on the David Beckham Miami soccer stadium front!

[Miami-Dade County] commissioners voted unanimously to have the administration negotiate with Florida International University for Beckham’s team to play at FIU Stadium, until Beckham chooses a site and builds a permanent stadium.

Wow, this is what people have been suggesting for over a year now as a cheaper solution than building a whole new stadium. It’s just been a matter of waiting for MLS and Beckham’s group to buy into it, and now—

David Beckham’s group issued a statement saying it is not interested, at least not now.

“Our focus is on identifying the location for…the team’s permanent home,” the Beckham statement said. “Careful consideration will be given FIU when we address…a temporary facility.”

Oh. So actually, not so big news.

FIU does seem to be on the official table, anyway, and if nothing else the county negotiating a lease means Beckham will have an option sitting in front of him if he decides to go the NYC F.C. route and launch a team without waiting for a new stadium to be approved first. Which he doesn’t seem all that interested in doing, mind you — clearly he knows that the threat to take his franchise and go home is the only real leverage he has to demand a new stadium — but if he really does have his heart set on a franchise in Miami, at least Miami seems ready to call his bluff.

MLS commissioner says without “the right stadium” in Miami, Beckham will take ball and go home

MLS commissioner Don Garber has for the first time stated openly that David Beckham’s Miami expansion franchise depends on getting a new stadium built:

“If we can’t get the right stadium, we can’t go to Miami. We have been challenged to find a site that we believe will be successful,” Garber told Reuters at the SoccerEx Americas Forum in Barbados last week.

“I’m neither optimistic [nor] pessimistic.”

That’s the kind of thing commissioners are expected to do for their owners, of course, and with Beckham’s troubles getting Miami officials (or even Broward County officials) to hand over the waterfront land that he desires, he no doubt appreciates all the leverage that he can get. And anyway, his option to pick up an MLS franchise on the cheap, negotiated as part of his agreement to join MLS as a player years back, doesn’t limit him to Miami, so presumably if his and Garber’s threats don’t shake loose a Miami stadium, he can go to Detroit or Juneau or some other city that has a waterfront and try again there.

Meanwhile, for anyone trying to discern a coherent policy here from Garber on when new soccer-only stadiums are needed, and when sharing with a football team is okay, and when sharing with a baseball team is okay, the answer is: coherent, schmoherent, it’s all about who wants it badly enough and how much money they’re putting up. If Beckham decides tomorrow that he’d be happy to share digs with the Dolphins, I’m sure Garber will declare that this is totally acceptable. It’s actually nice to see MLS growing up and joining the other big leagues that understand there’s only one principle worth standing on: money.

Falcons owner to Beckham: Sharing digs with an NFL team can be fun and rewarding!

And finally, Atlanta Falcons and as-yet-unnamed Atlanta MLS expansion team owner Arthur Blank thinks that David Beckham’s MLS expansion team should share a stadium with the Miami Dolphins:

Here’s what Blank had to say when asked if Beckham’s team should stadium share with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins and the University of Miami’s American Football team.

“Yes,” Blank told reporters. “It’s a challenge Beckham has to overcome. It’s important he finds a balance between the commercial side and the special, emotional atmosphere you want for a soccer stadium.”

Is Blank actually telling Beckham that he should throw in the towel on a new stadium and move into the Dolphins’ old place once it’s finished being renovated? Does he think maybe the Dolphins still want to build a new stadium, and could share with soccer? Has he completely forgotten that the Dolphins are doing renovations, and just assumes that every NFL owner is in the middle of building a new stadium, or will be soon? This is the guy who runs an organization that thinks London is in Spain, so anything is possible.

Beckham to talk with Broward County about talking about MLS stadium

That’ll 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.