MLS has wanted a stadium in the heart of Miami since the 90s to build its Latin and youth fan base. There have been several incarnations of professional soccer teams in South Florida, but none managed to navigate the political waters of Miami successfully.
Marcelo Claure, CEO of Sprint and Beckham’s partner said, “We have to put the team where it is accessible to them. So many Latin Americans and Europeans live here, it doesn’t seem right that we don’t have a soccer team.”
Beckham partnered with Claure, Jorge and Jose Mas, and Simon Fuller (creator of American Idol) to launch the franchise in January. They face a number of challenges before they can open the stadium, whose opening is scheduled for 2021.
Now, David Beckham is facing opposition not from the city, but from activist and landowner Bruce Matheson. Court records indicate that Matheson sued the county to block the proposed stadium in Overtown, and is now appealing a judge’s ruling that threw out his lawsuit in October. He alleges that Miami-Dade County gave Beckham “a secret discount from the taxpayers” in their no-bid, $9 million deal for three acres of county-owned land.
Beckham’s deal, which was based on appraisals from late 2015, but was approved in 2017, comes out to about $74 a square foot. In 2016, land was selling for $142 per square foot. Commissioners approved the deal, on the condition that Beckham and his partners spend $175 million on the stadium’s construction. Beckham and his partners have yet to close the deal and to secure land-use changes and new zoning.
The residents of Overtown are uneasy in light of community activists posting fake eviction notices in the neighborhood. The notice was actually an ad for a community meeting to discuss the future of public housing around the stadium. Public Housing Director Michael Liu said, “There are no plans to evict. We want to have the best possible housing for people in public housing.” Residents are skeptical, though. The future of Beckham’s MLS Miami stadium is uncertain.
Article by Katya Demina