Former soccer star Beckham reveals plans for Miami stadium

Former soccer star wants to expand waterfront park

The Miami HeraldMay 23, 2014 

Beckham Miami Stadium

John Alschuler, real estate adviser for Miami Beckham United, speaks at a news conference Thursday in Miami. David Beckham's team says filling in a downtown Miami boat slip will provide enough space to build a Major League Soccer stadium and add more parkland. ASSOCIATED PRESS

WILFREDO LEE — AP

MIAMI -- David Beckham's vision of a Major League Soccer stadium in downtown Miami would do away with a portion of a long-planned waterfront park in exchange for filling what is now a deep-water boat slip and turning that land -- and a neighboring parcel -- into new green space.

About 4.2 acres of Museum Park intended for a shaded tree grove and waterside plaza would become part of the footprint of the stadium, which would sit next to AmericanAirlines Arena with the long side of the soccer field parallel to Biscayne Boulevard.

The remaining filled land along the bay would be landscaped into a leg of the park, connecting south to the publicly owned property known as Parcel B behind the arena. That parcel, now used as a staging area for arena events, would also become parkland.

Miami Beckham United released preliminary designs of the stadium Thursday in an effort to counter amateur drawings put out earlier in the week by soccer fans looking to drum up support -- and, more troubling for Beckham's group, by opponents looking to show that a stadium would be out of place.

"By expanding Museum Park with new public spaces anchored by world-class art and science museums and a world-class soccer club, we'll be activating the waterfront on a year-round basis," Beckham said in a statement.

While Beckham's group has referred to "reclaiming" the slip site, environmentalists and former Miami city leaders, including former Mayor Manny Diaz, have said the water basin is an integral part of the multi-million dollar Museum Park, home to the recently opened Pérez Art Museum Miami and the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, which is under construction.

Though the site has become the top choice for Beckham's group, it is not where the retired English footballer and his investors originally hoped to build. On Tuesday, Miami-Dade County commissioners nixed their original location at PortMiami, a day after Beckham's group had conceded that the water basin was now its main target.

Beckham's group would pay the cost of filling the slip -- more than $20 million, according to a county estimate -- and most of the cost to construct the 20,000-seat stadium. The investors are also seeking a state subsidy.

The city of Miami owns the slip and Museum Park. The county owns Parcel B. For a stadium to be built, the two governments would have to agree to a land swap of sorts that would exempt the stadium structure from property taxes, though both County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and City Mayor Tomás Regalado have said they would require a payment in lieu of taxes. That would act as rent to the county, which Gimenez said he would then turn over to the city for parks maintenance and operations.

Miami voters would also have to sign off, likely in November.

Beckham, a retired English footballer, did not attend Thursday's news unveiling the drawings. Instead, one of his investors, Miami-based billionaire Marcelo Claure, met with reporters at the InterContinental Hotel down the street.

"Our plans to transform the FEC slip and Parcel B into soccer grounds and a public park will give Miami fans a chance to experience the thrill of the sport right in the heart of downtown," Claure said in a statement.

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