David Beckham’s Miami Major League Soccer franchise requires a majority vote from the Miami City Commission on Wednesday (July 18) to proceed with its stadium plans.
The commission was expected to rubber-stamp Beckham’s Miami Freedom Park complex proposal last week, but the meeting turned out to be anything but straightforward – Beckham and his partner in the MLS venture, Jorge Mas, faced serious questions concerning the lack of transparency regarding potential increased traffic in the area as well environmental impacts of the project.
Beckham’s plan is to redevelop the Melreese Municipal Golf Course, building a complex which features a soccer-specific stadium, retail shops and offices along with park space. The proposal is to build on city-owned land close to Miami International Airport and a major train station.
Commissioners at the meeting asked difficult questions at the meeting while residents of the area near the proposed complex protested outside City Hall with several speaking in opposition to the proposal. Many Miami residents and local community leaders feel they were burnt by Major League Baseball’s Miami Marlins franchise. As a result, fans want to ensure that any public assistance for Beckham’s venture is completely above-board and transparent.
A six-day delay was sought by commissioner Ken Russell, to study the proposal more carefully and speak with Beckham and Mas. Beckham and his partners need three out of five votes from the member commission on Wednesday to advance with the project – Russell is thought to be the deciding vote.
If Beckham and Mas secure passage of the proposal it will go to the November election ballot to be voted on directly by Miami residents.
The proposal has to this point been opposed by Miami commissioner Willy Gort, who represents the area which the complex would be built in. On Friday, Gort told the Miami Herald ““First thing you do is go out to the community and make them part of the project,” he said. “I think they need to do that, they should have done it before.”
Major League Soccer announced in January Miami will begin play in 2020 and this past week league sources affirmed that start date. The assumption is that Beckham’s club will begin play in a temporary venue while Miami Freedom Park is built, whatever the outcome of the vote. Plans for where a permanent stadium might be built if the vote doesn’t go Beckham’s way are not clear at this time.