[MLS EXPANSION]There was good news and bad news on the MLS expansion front on Monday night. Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez reiterated his support for the construction of a waterfront soccer stadium in Miami -- no small feat considering the volatile Miami politics surrounding stadium projects. He just doesn't want it where David Beckham has his dream of building a stadium at PortMiami.
The Miami Herald reported that Gimenez wrote Beckham's real-estate adviser, proposing filling in a boat slip to create land for a stadium and pedestrian walkway along Biscayne Bay, between Museum Park and AmericanAirlines Arena, home of the NBA's Miami Heat.
“Downtown Miami will greatly benefit from the creation of a grand waterfront park that will serve to bring our urban core closer to the water, providing a magnificent bay front walk along Biscayne Bay,” Gimenez wrote to John Alschuler.
Most of the attention until now has been on the PortMiami site for the 25,000-seat stadium. A wide-range group including various political leaders and led by Royal Caribbean Cruise has launched a major campaign to kill the PortMiami stadium plans.
The group opposing the soccer project includes former NFL (Philadelphia Eagles) owner Norman Braman, a successful Florida car dealer who has a long history of fighting tax measures and stadium projects, including Marlins Park, home of the baseball Marlins. He is best known for leading the successful recall election against Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez in 2011.
Gimenez, who has not expressly come out against the PortMiami stadium project, is so sensitive to being seen as pro-stadium that he has not been to a baseball game at Marlins Park whose financing deal he opposed.
Miami Beckham United, which needs the approval of Miami-Date County commissioners for the project, has identified other venues as alternative sites for the stadium.
“Our goal from the outset has been to create a great fan experience, to provide an economic asset that creates jobs, and design a stadium that communicates the energy of Miami to the entire world,” the group said in a statement to the Herald. “The Port is a strong site; however, a stadium next to AmericanAirlines Arena is an exciting possibility.”