Former Miami mayor Manny Diaz issued a statement Tuesday slamming Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez's proposal to fill-in a massive slip in downtown Miami for a soccer stadium. Joined by former Miami commissioners Johnny Winton, Joe Sanchez and Angel Gonzalez, Diaz compared the plan to the Marlins' failed effort to bring a baseball park to nearby Bicentennial Park.
Diaz is known as a behind-the-scenes advocate for putting a soccer stadium next to the Marlins' actual stadium in Little Havana, and he helped champion the unpopular tax-funded deal that built the ballpark. This is is his first formal public statement on the ongoing soccer debate.
Read the statement after the jump.
KEEPING MIAMI’S WATERFRONT IN PUBLIC HANDS
SOCCER STADIUM WOULD ESSENTIALLY DESTROY VISION OF MUSEUM PARK
During the early part of the last decade, a professional sports team came to us requesting thatwe turn over Bicentennial Park (now Museum Park) to build a baseball stadium. We refused to hand over one of the few remaining public waterfront locations to them because we wanted to safeguard public access to Biscayne Bay.
Today, we are shocked to hear that another professional sports team wants to build a soccer stadium on the same waterfront. A sports stadium no more belongs on the scarce waterfront today than it did in the year 2000.
With thousands of new urban dwellers and thousands more on the way, the need for green space has never been greater. There is no reason that Miami, a city graced with unrivaled natural beauty, should not also be graced with great civic and green spaces, with public parks, plazas and museums.
Great cities, large and small, are all embracing the opportunity to enhance the public realm by creating the zones, spaces, and buildings that create pride, areas equally owned by the people, irrespective of economic or social circumstance.
Through the efforts of many, we are creating an unrivaled public space, with museums, an opera house, a symphony hall and a beautiful park all set against the background of the beautiful vista that is Biscayne Bay. This work must continue.
We have done this because we owe a lasting legacy to those who will call Miami home long after we have gone. Miami has become one of the world’s leading urban centers, fulfilling its long awaited destiny. This is our gift to the future. Let us not purge this gift by building a stadium where it does not belong. Let us keep the waterfront in public hands.
Manny Diaz, former Mayor, City of Miami
Johnny Winton, former Commissioner, City of Miami
Joe Sanchez, former Commissioner, City of Miami
Angel Gonzalez, former Commissioner, City of Miami