Beckham’s Miami MLS stadium doesn’t even have a site, actually

Reader challenge! Pretend you are a TV news reporter writing for this whole new Interweb thing. Finish this sentence:

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami-Dade County will begin talks this week with a group led by David Beckham to hammer out details of a pro-soccer stadium.

The big question is

Your options are:

  1. …why they need it?
  2. …who will pay for it?
  3. …where to put it?

Okay, that was an easy one: It’s #3, because who cares about money when you can look at Google Maps and throw darts? (Note to readers: Don’t actually do that. You could damage your screen.) Not that CBS Miami’s Gary Nelson actually mentions any specific sites, mind you, not even the site that prospective team owner David Beckham was reportedly eyeing back in November, but he does cite county commissioner Xavier Suarez as being able to “envision a stadium at the port and a network of pedestrian walkways and overpasses tying it and all of downtown’s parks and art and sports venues together,” which if you close your eyes, yes, yes, I can see it too!

County commissioner Bruno Barriero also promises: “The stadium is definitely going to be built out of the private sector’s wallet. We are not, under any circumstances, going to fund the construction of the stadium.” That’s pretty unlikely given recent MLS stadium projects, all of which have at least included free land and/or tax breaks, but it’s a nice promise, anyway. Now to see whether the commission can be held to it — and by “now” I mean of course “not until several months from now when the stadium is a fait accompli and people can actually discuss how to pay for it.”

Miami county commission votes to open stadium talks with Beckham because ooooooh Beckham!

The Miami-Dade County Commission voted last night on authorizing Mayor Carlos Gimenez to negotiate with soccer-superstar-turned-would-be-MLS-franchise-owner David Beckham on a new stadium, and how did that go?

As Commissioner Juan C. Zapata put it from the dais: “Go, soccer! Go, MLS!”

Okay, then. Needless to say, the vote was unanimous, since everybody loves soccer when no one’s thought about how to pay for the stadium just yet. Just so long as it doesn’t involve actually going to see soccer, because Miamians hate that.

The commission’s resolution does require that the stadium be built without county funding (whether this includes tax breaks, the Miami Herald doesn’t say), and pay rent if it’s located on public land, so that’s something, though obviously there’s still a ton of leeway here for absolutely any kind of financing deal. And, let’s see, what else?

Gimenez, who has seen more detailed plans from Beckham and his investors, suggested it wouldn’t just be a stadium being built at the seaport but also a “public space” — including perhaps turning the old pedestrian bridge from the mainland into an elevated linear park of sorts, like Manhattan’s High Line.

“The view back to Miami is really spectacular, and very few people get to see that,” the mayor said.

Yeah, because nobody currently has the opportunity to walk across a … bridge that’s already been open to pedestrians for 20 years? Seriously, is name-checking the High Line just what every city official has to do now for any development project, like it’s the 21st century version of monorails?

Beckham to build 75,000-seat Miami stadium with own money — hahaha, but seriously, he may have a site picked out

For those who aren’t familiar with the Daily Mirror, here’s your capsule history: It’s a British tabloid, specializing in lurid celebrity gossip. It used to be edited by Piers Morgan — yeah, that one — until he was fired for publishing faked photos of British soldiers abusing Iraqis. Its record of accuracy since then isn’t much better.

So when reading the following from Sunday’s Mirror, consider the source:

David Beckham is to take his creative midfield skills to new heights by building a stadium, the Sunday People reports.

The former LA Galaxy star couldn’t find a suitable home ground for his new Miami team, due to kick off in 2015.

So the football legend plans to develop his own 75,000-capacity complex, with a hotel and shops. For now the team will use the Sun Life Stadium, former home to the Miami Marlins baseball team.

A source close to David, 38, said: “It’s such an exciting project, he has found some land and it’s pretty much all ready to go.”

Um, yeah. The largest soccer-only facility in the U.S. is the Los Angeles Galaxy‘s StubHub Center at 27,000 seats, so building a stadium nearly triple that size for a market whose previous MLS team was folded after four seasons of never drawing more than 11,000 fans per game … um, yeah. Not to mention that a stadium that size would cost, at minimum, well over half a billion dollars, which even Beckham might have a hard time finding in his coat pockets.

The Miami Herald, which is an actual newspaper, reports today that Beckham has identified a preferred site for a stadium — the southwest corner of Miami’s seaport, which would put it across a short causeway from the Heat‘s American Airlines Arena. According to the Herald, Miami-Dade County would lease the site to Beckham’s group, which would then figure out how to build a stadium (size as yet undetermined) with other money. That sounds more believable — though finding any significant private money for a large soccer-only stadium in an unproven market still sounds pretty dubious, even if your lead investor is one of the most famous soccer players in history.

Beckham visits Marlins Park as possible temporary (but only temporary) soccer home

Would-be Miami MLS owner David Beckham has finally dropped some hints about where his expansion team would play, at least in the short term, touring Marlins Park yesterday and telling Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez that Florida International University’s football stadium is under consideration as well.

Neither is really ideal: Marlins Park is configured for baseball, not soccer, and scheduling would be complicated given that the MLS and MLB seasons overlap. (Though the new New York City F.C. team is likely to share the Yankees‘ stadium at first; plus, in Miami even if they played both sports simultaneously, it’s not like there would be any baseball fans to get in the way.) FIU Stadium is the right size (20,000 seats) and has hosted soccer before, but has been rejected by MLS as a permanent solution because … actually, I’m not sure why. Because it’s not soccer-only? Because it’s too far from downtown Miami? Too close to Jose Canseco Street? Your guess is as good as mine.

Anyway, Beckham is planning to submit his application for an expansion franchise by the end of the year, and given that his last player contract included an option to get a team, it’s unlikely the league will turn him down, whatever his stadium situation. Though it’s likely you’ll see commissioner Don Garber rattle some sabers about how Miami’s new team won’t survive, can’t be successful, will succumb to a plague of locusts, etc., if Beckham isn’t gifted with a soccer-only stadium like the kids down the road. That’s the kind of threat that any new sports team owner would welcome.

 

Beckham to seek Miami MLS team, mum on stadium plans

In one of the worst-kept secrets in sports history, the recently retired David Beckham announced on Tuesday night that he plans to launch an MLS expansion team in Miami. Which he gets to do, because he’s David Beckham, and gets to do at a discounted expansion fee via an option in his last contract, also because he’s David Beckham.

So Mr. Posh gets the 21st or 22nd or something MLS franchise, and Miami gets its first big-league soccer team since the late, unlamented Fusion, and … it feels like there’s something we’re leaving out. What’s this site about again, anyway? Oh, right:

MLS sources have previously said neither Sun Life Stadium nor FIU’s football stadium are ideal venues for a Miami-based MLS team. Instead, the league would likely want a soccer-specific stadium if at all possible…

If Miami wants to build a top-notch facility, using Orlando as a base, the cost will be well over $100 million.

This isn’t actually an immediate crisis, as MLS commissioner Don Garber has previously indicated that new soccer-only stadiums aren’t an absolute must. (Unless you’re D.C. United, in which case eeeagh crisis!) Still, Sun Life Stadium isn’t Fake Yankee Stadium or Atlanta’s new Sphincterdome, so even if Beckham gets a team before lining up a stadium deal, it’s bound to be item #2 on his to-do list.

So, what would it take to get a new soccer stadium in Miami? $100 million, obviously, which while a lot less than what the Marlins demanded for their stadium, still has the disadvantage of coming on the heels of the Marlins effectively salting the earth for stadium campaigns, to the point where Dolphins owner Stephen Ross couldn’t even get a legislative vote on their request for $127 million in public money to renovate Sun Life Stadium. So while cobbling together city and county funds a la Orlando City S.C. is a possibility, it’s likely to be a good bit tougher than it was across the state.

Of course, there is another option: Beckham is one of the richest (ex-)athletes on the planet, with a net worth around $300 million — the guy actually donated his entire $5.3 million salary to charity last year. So, he could decide to just pay cash for a new stadium, if he wanted. Of course, so could Stephen Ross, but these guys didn’t get to be billionaires by paying for their own toys, now did they?

Atlanta reportedly close to getting MLS team, as league says, “Enh, soccer-only stadiums not so important after all”

When MLS commissioner Don Garber announced plans to add four more teams this decade and create the most humongoid soccer league on earth, the assumption was that next to follow would be a massive bidding war among cities to build soccer-only stadiums, since that’s what Garber’s always demanded before and there are tons of mid-sized cities to choose from. Instead: Atlanta, Georgia, come on down!

Local and national reports say MLS is relatively close to an agreement with Falcons owner Arthur Blank to bring an MLS expansion team to Atlanta, one of the five new franchises coming in the next seven years. The two would share the billion-dollar retractable domed stadium—aka, “The Sphincter”—that’s scheduled to be completed in 2017…

The lack of a soccer-specific stadium doesn’t appear to be an issue for MLS. The Atlanta stadium will be designed to accommodate soccer, with a wide pitch and separate locker rooms, and the upper deck can easily be closed down to reduce capacity. A similar situation is in place in Vancouver, where the Whitecaps play in a CFL stadium.

Also Seattle, where the Sounders play in an NFL stadium. Still, coming on top of the announcement of New York City F.C. with only a baseball stadium to play in for now, this seems to indicate a shift in strategy for Garber: Instead of doling out teams one at a time to whoever coughs up a soccer-specific stadium, just grab whatever money it can for expansion franchises ASAP and sweat the home field stuff later. (Of the other two new teams rumored to be next in line, Orlando is apparently still dependent on a new soccer-only stadium, while nobody’s sure where Miami would play, just that David Beckham would own it and what he wants, he gets.)

Whether this is because Garber is looking for quick cash now that franchise values seem high or what, I’ll leave to somebody with a more thorough understanding of MLS finances. Still, if this Atlanta thing pans out, you have to wonder what cities that are currently considering building soccer-only stadiums because their teams say they need them — I’m looking at you, Washington, D.C. — will think of the fact that sharing a football stadium is now apparently A-OK with MLS. Stadium blackmail is tough.

Garber: MLS to keep adding teams like there’s no tomorrow

During halftime of last night’s MLS All-Star Game — in which the league’s best players were trounced by a club team that finished 7th in the Italian league last season — MLS commissioner Don Garber announced that the league will expand by another four teams, to 24, by the year 2020.

That would just continue the crazy pace that MLS has been on since 2005, when it had only ten teams; NYC F.C. is set to become the league’s 20th team in 2015, meaning the league will keep on adding one team a year (with one year off, maybe) through the end of the decade. Possible expansion targets could include Miami, Atlanta, Sacramento, Orlando, Detroit, Minneapolis, and probably a few others that the AP and I are both forgetting.

This is likely to mean more attempts at stadium deals, which are already burbling under the surface in many of those cities (Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson declared his renewed support for a soccer stadium there earlier this week). On the one hand, the pre-announcement of so much expansion should actually give more leverage to city mayors to drive a harder bargain on stadium deals, since if MLS needs to come up with sites for four more teams, they’re going to have to take pretty much whatever stadiums they can get. On the other hand, city mayors don’t really seem to understand leverage, so it probably won’t matter.

Orlando “fast-tracks” MLS stadium plans by asking for economic impact study

The Orlando City Soccer Club may not have gotten its stadium money approved by the Florida state legislature, but that’s not stopping Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, who says she’s “fast-tracking” plans for a $105 million soccer-only stadium, by which she means:

Jacobs isn’t set to sign off on authorizing use of the hotel taxes for the soccer stadium. She first wants Visit Orlando, the local tourism board, to analyze the impact the stadium would have on local tourism.

Oh, that kind of fast-tracking. Also, even hotel taxes would only pay for $25 million of the cost, and OCSC wants $75 million, so.

In other news, David Beckham went to a basketball game, and now everyone is totally sure this means Miami will get an MLS franchise. Seriously, journalists of the 21st century, doesn’t “follow the money” mean anything to you people?