Lynda Bell, the Miami-Dade commissioner charged with promoting sports, said Friday she has significant doubts about bringing soccer to PortMiami.
"I've been purposely staying quiet on this issue,'' said Bell, who serves as chair of the Miami-Dade Sports Commission. "At this point, I'm not loving the port site. I don't see it. I'm loving soccer."
Bell made her remarks during an interview about her campaign delivering 1,500 voter signatures for her reelection bid in District 8 -- more than she needs to qualify.
The months of rounding up constituent signatures is something of a forced exercise: Bell could have paid a small fee to secure her slot on the ballot, and the incumbent said quite a few voters wondered why she didn't. "The No. 1 question was: Why are you doing this? Aren't you automatically on the ballot?" Bell said Friday.
Her challenger, Daniella Levine Cava, has raised about $257,000, compared to Bell's $393,000, according to recent campaign reports.
For Bell, the signature drive meant her official return to the campaign trail as an incumbent after winning her first term in 2010. "Of course, more people recognize your name,'' she said. Bell said it wasn't easy. "It's shocking how many doors you have to knock on to get signatures,'' she said. "Think about it: 25 to 30 percent of the people, max, are actually home when you knock on their door."
During the signature drive, Bell said constituents didn't bring up the current hot items facing commissioners: library cuts, budget woes and the soccer debate among them. "I heard about traffic,'' she said. "Keep my taxes low."
David Beckham wants to bring a soccer stadium to PortMiami, which is facing financial challenges as it prepares to borrow $200 million. Bell said she wants to put a soccer stadium somewhere else in Miami-Dade. "There has to be another option," she said. "Is a soccer stadium the highest and best use for that particular site?"