When initial concept designs of David Beckham’s downtown Miami stadium were released earlier this spring the anticipation was hard for some to contain. There is still a very long way to go for the Beckham Miami United group before that dream becomes a reality, and lately the group has run into some unexpected road blocks from surrounding businesses in Port Miami – mainly Royal Caribbean Cruises.
The cruise line is heading up a group of local businesses opposing Beckham’s plan to build the soccer stadium called the Miami Seaport Alliance. According to Reuters, the group has paid for print ads as well as TV and radio campaigns opposing the stadium, citing that it would eliminate approximately 200,000 jobs generated by the port. The president of the Miami Seaport Alliance, John Fox, stated,
We just don’t think they (Beckham’s group) are being honest with this community.
Fox alludes to the fact that he believes that the stadium is just the face of a much larger plan to develop the surrounding space, a plan which they say the Beckham group has not shared and is “misleading” the public. The plan for the stadium that Beckham and his partners Simon Fuller and Marcelo Claure unveiled in March included shopping plazas, hotels, and offices, which was all public information, and in addition the estimated $250 million is going to be privately funded.
The mayor of Miami-Dade County has called for both sides to stay their arguments until a full study has been conducted to better understand the potential impact the future stadium would have on the community. The political involvement of professional sports is often overlooked by most fans. Just because Beckham and his team have a fantastic design and idea for a downtown stadium and they have the support for a bid for a franchise team from MLS, does not mean that they can just go ahead and build it. At the end of the day, the final decision rests with the Miami-Dade County Commissioners to vote on the project, however, no timeline has been set as of yet for such a vote.
Bolivian billionaire and partner in the Beckham Miami United group, Marcelo Claure, stated,
I am personally saddened that they have chosen to substitute constructive dialogue with attack ads. Our goal is not to create chaos, but to create happiness.
To make the situation even more unclear, companies that are supposed to be in support of the Miami Seaport Alliance have conflicting stories about that support when reporters asked for comment on their stance in the scenario. According to Reuters Fox named the International Longshoremen’s Association, The Miami Association of Realtors, and the Florida Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association all as backers of the Miami Seaport Alliance, yet spokesmen from each organization have all said that they have yet to “take sides” or were “neutral” on the situation.
A downtown stadium was one of the stipulations from MLS for Beckham’s expansion franchise bid. If the situation in Miami causes enough unrest in the general and political community at large it could put a serious dampener on the stadium plans. The Beckham Miami United group said that if studies show that their stadium plans in Port Miami would have a significant negative impact to the community that they would look elsewhere for the site of their club’s home grounds.