[MLS EXPANSION] It may come down to the voters of Miami-Dade County or the City of Miami to decide whether a waterfront soccer stadium is built by David Beckham's group seeking MLS's 23rd club.
Miami mayor Tomas Regalado says a referendum will be required and Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Gimenez says a referendum should be held if Miami Beckham United seeks to go ahead with plans to build a waterfront stadium.
The Miami site is a city-owned deep-water basin known as the Florida East Coast Railway slip. The Miami-Dade site is at PortMiami’s southwest corner. A city referendum is required for a waterfront city property to be developed. County approval by voters is not required, but it is politically expedient.
“I know that there are a lot of commissioners that would like that,” Gimenez told the Miami Herald. “I think that, at the end, the people’s voice should be heard.”
After Marlins Park, the home of the baseball Marlins was built in Little Havana, with public financing but without a referendum, County Mayor Carlos Alvarez and Commissioner Natacha Seijas were recalled. The Marlins Park is such a political issue that Gimenez has refused to attend a game there. Beckham's group won't consider a site for its soccer stadium next to Marlins Park for fear the soccer project will be tainted by the issues that have surrounded the baseball stadium.
Regalado supports a referendum as a way to get the green light from his voters for a soccer stadium. “We should not lose Beckham and his project -- everybody agrees on that,” Regalado told the Herald this week.
Unlike Marlins Park, the Beckham group would pay for the construction of the 25,000-seat stadium estimated to cost about $250 million at the port. The benefit of building on county land is that it won't have to pay property taxes. That might not be true on city property. In either case, Beckham's group will seek annual sales tax rebates available following the passage of legislation supporting future sports stadium projects.
Regalado also agreed that debate over the stadium plans should not drag on. A large ad campaign against the PortMiami project has been waged by interests tied to the cargo and cruise industries, but the Herald's PolitiFact watchdog group operating in conjunction with the Tampa Tribune declared as "false" the assertions of the ads that the soccer stadium would threaten 207,000 jobs and $27 billion economic impact tied to these port industries.
"The numbers come from a study that states the jobs related to the port are all over Florida. The ad is careful in its wording about the jobs because it states the jobs are “tied” to the cargo and cruise industries, but then it talks about jobs at PortMiami such as crane operators who could be replaced by stadium peanut sellers — which could create the impression that these are all direct jobs at the port, and that’s not the case. A soccer stadium at the port would certainly lead to some changes at the port — and cruise operators are concerned about how that could change their operations. But at this point, there is no evidence that a stadium would threaten the port jobs or economic activity."
VIVA LAS VEGAS?The Las Vegas city council will hear a request on Wednesday to extend the deadline on a development agreement between the Cordish Companies and the City of Las Vegas that expires May 31. The agreement is to build a downtown sports stadium at Symphony Park. Findlay Sports and Entertainment has joined the Cordish Companies and announced plans to build a 24,000-seat soccer stadium that have been well received by Las Vegas mayor Carolyn Goodman, who called them "really, really exciting." The two developers recently met with MLS to discuss their plans.
“We recently met with Justin Findlayand Blake Cordish at the MLS League office in New York and were very impressed with their vision to pursue building a new soccer stadium and acquiring an MLS expansion club for Las Vegas,” MLS Deputy Commissioner and President Mark Abbott said in a statement to the Las Vegas Sun. “We look forward to continuing discussions as they work to further develop their plans with Mayor Goodman and the City of Las Vegas.”
UPDATED ATLANTA NUMBERS.Atlanta's Founder’s Club has reached 3,637 members who have pledged to purchase 10,510 season tickets, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The $50 fee to become a member is refundable. The club, which plans to begin play in 2017, is seeking its first hire: club president. Headhunting firm Korn Ferry has been retained to help in the job search.