Miami-Dade mayor: Overtown site 'last opportunity here' for MLS expansion
David Beckham's ownership group and its multi-year quest to bring an MLS expansion team to Miami appears to be in do-or-die territory.
At a town hall meeting Wednesday night in the Overtown neighborhood where Beckham's group is attempting to secure land to build the stadium that would pave way for a franchise, Miami-Dade County mayor Carlos Gimenez offered a path to finality–for better or for worse.
“This is, frankly, I believe our last opportunity here for Miami to have Major League Soccer,” Gimenez told the Miami Herald.
Beckham's Miami MLS partner Tim Leiweke presented plans and a case for the privately-funded 25,000-seat stadium to residents at the town hall, unveiling a new stadium rendering the revealed an open-air venue by the Miami River.
The stadium, according to The Herald, wouldn't open until 2021 at the earliest, meaning the potential franchise may have to play at a temporary venue first. Beckham's group must acquire a nine-acre parcel of land from the county before any stadium can be built, and it brought in an additional investor, Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly, to increase its funding and finish off the deal. The stadium will not have parking facilities, and Beckham's group has reportedly promised to create 50 permanent jobs, half of which would be required to pay the county's $15/hour living wage.
“We’re going to be encouraging the use of Metromover, Metrorail, water taxis, ride-sharing,” Spencer Crowley, a lawyer and lobbyist for Beckham's group, told The Herald.
The club would reportedly also arrange for boat and bus shuttles to and from the river and nearby parking garages.
Beckham has come under increased pressure to deliver on his bid, with MLS insinuating that it would go another way if it had to after giving Beckham ample time to do what was necessary to land a team and exercise the ownership option that was built into his contract.
“We’ve all reached agreement, he included, that we’ve all put in an enormous amount of time and money and energy into getting something finalized," MLS commissioner Don Garber said recently at a meeting of APSE editors. "And we all agree it’s time to either move forward or not. And that time is upon us. It’s not a specific day, but that time is upon us."
The league isn't short on options, as it has 12 cities vying for four places after Beckham and Miami secure their prospective place.