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Miami 'giddy' about soccer, New York? Not so much
by Paul Kennedy, December 17th, 2013 6:52PM

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TAGS:  david beckham, mls, new york city fc, soccer business

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By Paul Kennedy

Miami-Dade County commissioners have demonstrated their support for soccer. Just what that gets David Beckham and his group seeking to find a home for a soccer stadium as part of the Miami bid to secure an MLS expansion team remains to seen.

The commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to agree to allow Mayor Carlos Gimenez to begin negotiations on a new privately funded soccer stadium.

The Miami Herald described the commissioners as "giddy" in support of soccer at the commission meeting.

Miami Beckham United has expressed interest in building a stadium in an urban location -- in keeping with MLS's move into preferably downtown settings -- and it has identified county-owned land at PortMiami as its preferred location for the stadium.

Building a consensus on a location -- at PortMiami or elsewhere -- won't be easy. Miami-Dade County commissioners asked the Beckham group to consider other locations -- generally within their own districts.

DE BLASIO STANDS IN WAY. "Giddy" wouldn't exactly be the word used to describe the reception to New York City FC's proposed deal to construct a 28,000-seat soccer stadium just south of Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

High-profile investors like the New York Yankees and Manchester City have put the project under heightened scrutiny from the New York press. In particular, Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Manchester City's billionaire owner from the United Arab Emirates, has emerged as a lightning rod in the deal. (New York Daily New headline: Bronx soccer stadium deal near Yankee Stadium offers big incentives to Arab firm.)

But the hurdles before NYCFC are higher than that. They boil down to politics. While outgoing mayor Michael Bloomberg has been a staunch supporter of a soccer stadium, first in Queens and now in the Bronx, mayor-elect Bill de Blasio is not as pro-development.

Lis Smith, a de Blasio spokeswoman, told the New York Times, “We have real concerns about investing scarce public resources and forgoing revenue to support the creation of an arena for a team co-owned by one of the world’s wealthiest individuals, and will review any plan with that in mind.”

The Times estimated the cost of the project at $350 million, for which $250 million-$300 million would come from the issuance of municipal tax-exempt bonds. It reported the deal would include exemptions from sales tax and mortgage recording tax worth an estimated $21.5 million, and NYC FC would need buy or lease from the city space currently used for parking lots.

Many of the so-called "legacy projects" the Bloomberg administration supports -- real-estate development projects that will take years to complete -- will be hard to unravel once de Blasio takes over on Jan. 1, but the Times reported that plans for the Bronx soccer stadium could still be halted or changed.

De Blasio, New York's public advocate, opposed the soccer stadium project MLS initiated at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens on the grounds that the stadium would have been built on prime parkland. His mayoral campaign featured lots of anti-development rhetoric.

“The era of giving away prime land to commercial interests at bargain basement prices must come to an end," de Blasio said in July.
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