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County commissioner opposes David Beckham's MLS stadium at downtown Miami slip

@PatriciaMazzei

A Miami-Dade County commissioner has become the first elected official in the county or city to formally oppose David Beckham's bid to build a Major League Soccer stadium on the downtown Miami waterfront.

Xavier Suarez does not represent the district where the proposed 20,000-seat stadium would go. But he is a former Miami mayor whose son now sits on the city commission. Beckham's representatives have been in now-stalled talks with the city over the site, which is now a deep-water basin along Biscayne Boulevard known as the Florida East Coast Railway slip. County commissioners would eventually have to weigh in on a deal if it were to involve a land swap with the city.

"After discussions with Miami officials (past and present), residents of the area and a host of planner and activists, I have concluded that the FEC slip is not a desirable site for the stadium," Suarez said in a statement Friday. The stadium wouldn't add anything to the waterfront but "another concrete wall" and could create parking and traffic congestion, he said.

Instead, Suarez endorsed a Beckham stadium next to Marlins Park in Little Havana -- a location Beckham's business partner, Simon Fuller, has derided as "spiritually tainted" by the unpopular public financing deal for the Miami Marlins.

Suarez's office even included a rendering of a possible Little Havana soccer stadium. The rendering, Suarez said, was provided to him by former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, who has slammed the FEC slip stadium proposal. Diaz could not be immediately reached for comment.

Read Suarez's full statement after the jump.  

I wish to publicly announce my views on the idea of putting a stadium at the so-called “FEC Slip” site. 

I do this because I want Major League Soccer to come to Miami. I recognize that it is a rare occurrence when a former world-class player and still world-class personality spends substantial money to buy a sports franchise with the implicit condition that the franchise be located in Miami.  David Beckham is a class act and he belongs in our world-class city. 

More importantly, soccer is the world's favorite pastime and Miami is the world's favorite city. 

From day one, I have tried my hardest to make each site that is proposed work for the citizens of my county.  I struggled to understand the logic of a stadium in the port; when that idea was voted down by the county commission, I struggled to understand the logic of a waterfront venue, even if it meant going back on two decades of planning in which Miami officials, following my own legacy (1985-93) endeavored to keep the FEC Slip as open space, with waterfront access for all Miamians. 

After discussions with Miami officials (past and present), residents of the area and a host of planners and activists, I have concluded that the FEC slip is not a desirable site for the stadium. As a venue for sports or entertainment, it adds nothing to the existing AAA arena - except another concrete wall that visually separates pedestrians and motorists from the waterfront.  I also worry about parking and the kinds of traffic nightmares that would have to be endured by the burgeoning downtown community of residents, already numbering in the range of 15,000. 

Also of importance is the fact that the wishes and preferences of the most affected residential and business community are not being taken into account. (In political philosophy, that consideration is referred to as the ("principle of subsidiarity.")  That is not the way to start off with a new sports franchise. 

Twice now, the proponents of this franchise made the mistake of predetermining one chosen location. That is not how basketball and baseball franchises were obtained. To the contrary, it was by open, public discussion of a handful of possible sites. 

So far, scant attention has been paid to a site that has every desirable element imaginable. It is the area formerly known as the Orange Bowl, in the heart of Little Havana.  It has substantial parking; access from four corners; nearness to rapid transit.  Most importantly it is a site that can accommodate other uses, without doing harm to the residential community. 

A stadium that can accommodate up to 40,000 people can be used for Hurricane football.   It can also be a venue for open-air concerts and, in conjunction with the Marlins Stadium, for international competition, requiring more than one facility to be in use simultaneously. 

I should add that I have no objection if this location, too, is submitted to a referendum. Let the people decide.  And let us do it in a way that is as transparent and consultative as possible.  Miamians have for too long been consulted after-the-fact in this matter of sports franchises.  It is time to be consulted from day one.

Comments

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ed jenkins

the citizens do not care about the location of this foolish investment, just that it not involve money confiscated from them or that it not be given public land at below market prices or rental rates. they do not know why there is so much involvement of these politicians when this business venture can do what all other businesses do which is to buy the property plant and equipment with their own money, unless these swindlers have no intention of paying with their own money and plan to continue finding ways to steal taxpayer money for their own benefit.

While the citizens welcome all business ventures, they recommend these people consider another country since this country has no interest in this primitive game. Americans who were bored with this dull game more than a century ago invented more advanced games to entertain themselves.

James

Wow what a serious jerk

Stopt Hebus

A good site seems to me the old Boomers Amusement Park just off I-95 between Stirling and Griffin. It's a big area(Dolphins Stadium and its parking would fit there), good freeway access, and between Miami and Fort Lauderdale so easy for fans from both cities.

Just my two cents.

A leader emerges

Finally, an elected official takes the time to research this very public issue. Finally, an elected official takes a stand opposing another sports stadium on waterfront park land. Finally, a leader stands up to protect Museum Park. Commissioner Xavier Suarez has my vote to be the next Mayor of Miami-Dade County.

KRusso

It is wise to consider all available options. I thought PortMiami was a great idea, and it was dissappointing to see Royal Caribbean and its political allies engage in the spread of lies and misinformation to the public.

That said, I think that looking at this objectively, there are indeed other sites that merit consideration, especially if you consider not only the league's mandate that the stadium be in downtown Miami, but the long-term interests of what is expected to be a seriously sucvessful team. You need to look at any site from the perspective of long-viability. At Museum Park any future plans may be limited by height and other limitations to name just one factor.

Miami22

The more I learn about this Museum Park site the more I'm beginning to think it's a bad idea for David Beckham to put his soccer stadium. The area around Museum Park is growing rapidly and within a few years movement should start on a huge construction project called "Miami World Center", this project will take up most of the downtown parking lots that now serves fans that attend Miami Heat games at the American Airlines Arena. That'll mean no parking for soccer fans if a stadium should be build there and it will require two or more years for permitting along with lawsuits that will come. Because of height restrictions at the park, there is no room for future expansion at the stadium down the line and $15 million would have to come out of David Beckham's pocket before cost to fill in the boat slip. From a business prospective alone, this does not sound like a good deal for David Beckham. The soccer loving fans of South Florida don't really care about a stadium on the waterfront, they just want their team. Building this soccer stadium on the Miami river next to Marlins isn't really a bad idea, I think it's time Beckham terminate his advisers and stop listening to Mayor Carlos Gimenez who keeps pointing him to wrong locations. A soccer stadium at the site of the old Orange Bowl location was a part of the original plan when county and city commissioners approved the Marlin's stadium a few years age. This stadium should be rightfully on the Miami river in little Havana.

Miami22

We hear all the time how this isn't a good deal for the city or the residents, but in reality this isn't a good deal for David Beckham in the same. Mayor Tomas Regalado keep saying how valuable and expensive this land is and it'll cost Beckham $15 million dollars out of Beckham's pocket that has to be paid back to the city of Miami to cover cost the city spent to improve the boat slip. Then Beckham's group will have to spend $20 million or more to cover the cost to fill in the slip. Then there are additional cost for permitting environment impact report and other expenses. Beckham wants to establish this team by 2017, well the permitting alone will take two years minimum and that's a good case scenario. From the prospective of the real soccer fans of South Florida who will be spending their money and supporting this team, a waterfront stadium sounds nice, but it's not really necessary and what's more important to these fans is that they get their local MLS team. Too much time money and efforts have been wasted between the two waterfront sites, it's time for Beckham to focus on a more viable site within the city limits of Miami.

Dalia Lagoa

I applaud and commend County Commissioner Suarez for having the courage to come out publicly against building the soccer stadium in Museum Park. He understands that soccer fans want their team and Miami residents their park and offers the only logical solution, a soccer stadium in the site where it was originally envisioned, next to Marlin's Park. Mr. Beckham and his advisers should focus more on the sport and less on the real estate.

Rudy

Thanks to COmmissioner Xavier Suarez for stepping up to the plate and trying to stop what seemed to so many to be a freight train. Bad deals like this can be stopped when activists and thinking people speak out, write their elected officials in large numbers, think through the issues and organize events etc to wake others up.

Miami22

@Dalia, I think Mr. Beckham is just being advised by many people who have other agendas. The more glamorous and high profile the site, the more money his Real Estate Advisers make. If Mayor Carlos Gimenez could persuade Beckham to more waterfront sites, the more money the county makes. Beckham came to town to find a site, who do you think has been pointing him in the direction of PortMiami and Museum Park? It's the county and city government officials. I'm sure if Beckham came to town and said we need a good site for a soccer stadium, and the Mayor said we only have the Miami river site next to the Marlin's stadium, I'm sure Beckham and his team would've settled for that location long ago. Beckham need to have the right people around him to advise him properly and his team of advisers and Mayor Gimenez isn't doing a good enough job of it!

Peter Ehrlich

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Xavier Suarez shows great courage. He has obviously done his homework. He is a leader.

Goooooaaaallll

Beckham hasn't a clue nor does Carlos Gimenez. these two just get wound up by the real money players and pushed out onstage to do their little song and dance.
Of the two Carlos is the worst. It was embarrassing to see how he was played on Tuesday by the Miami Heat. It became crystal clear why Mickey Arrison's businees skills made him the richest man in Florida and the mayor's skills earn him $160,000 a year and a government pension.
I think Beckham just wants a successful franchise and could personally care less where it's located. Carlos just wants to fkeep his job so be can feel important.

Anyway I hope it's not another rush job backroom deal and no public vote like Tuesday.

D

Shut up all of you losers. Soccer sucks and this country doesn't like it so you can fantasize all you want about it but even if this insane idea gets off the ground it will be gone in a few years like all the rest of the soccer failures before down here.

Love is Love

Beckham and Gimenez are in love!
Don't get in the way of their passionate romance : (

Miami22

@D, you've taken ignorance to an entirely new level. But if soccer sucks like your ignorant statement suggest, then I guess it has a lot in common with your Dolphins, last I checked they SUCKED too. Everyone here seemed to be having a rational and respectful discussion like civilized people until you came here with your classless barbaric narrow minded ignorant viewpoint.

Suarez is Ignorant

Xavier Suarez does not understand soccer or its fans. The reason this stadium needs to be downtown is because of public transportation. There is nowhere else in all of Miami Dade County where you can place this stadium close to the Metrorail/Metromover except in Downtown Miami. Xavier Suarez is unfortunately very ignorant, because he thinks Little Havana would be a perfect spot for soccer because of the hispanic residents, but what he fails miserably to understand is that Cubans (which is the majority of Little Havana) have no interest in soccer and they don't even go out to support the sport they do like (baseball). There is no rail line to Little Havana. The majority of people who do support soccer are south americans and europeans along with some americans….and they reside mostly in the downtown area (Brickell area), Pinecrest, Doral, Aventura, Miami Beach. The age of soccer fans are typically between 18 - 40 year olds. I

I agree with Mr. Beckham, Mr. Fuller, Mr. Claure and Mr. Garber when they say it has to be downtown or not at all. It is unfortunate for Mr. Suarez that he supports sports that are waning in our community. It was under his leadership that pushed Joe Robbie to leave the City of Miami and build his stadium out in nowhereville and now that stadium is a ghost town on Sundays. Mr. Suarez is a fan of baseball and that stadium fills up once a year on opening day and struggles for 80 games thereafter. We are unfortunately a community that does not support the arts or culture yet we spend $500 million dollars building a performing arts center that is subpar and we spend and build 2 museums (of which we already have in other locations but don't seem to draw anyone to visit) on the so called precious waterfront land. Our community can't even support a symphony, we have to borrow one from Cleveland for a few weeks per year. Sad very sad.

D

Another soccer loving loser is already making excuses that that losers who like soccer can't make it to the stadium because they are so poor they can't afford cars and have to take public transportation. Great business model depending on the poor and losers who take public transportation you soccer losers. Try finding a sport people actually want to watch.

David Young

I think it should be put on the FIU West campus. Make it a part of the University. It really could be a multi use site. I am sure that the students would love the easy access to attend the 20 or so games a year plus just think about the cultural events that could take place!

ed jenkins

The citizens have now figured out that these out of state swindlers had hoped to grab valuable public land for cheap under the guise of building a stadium and that is why these political leaders had to be involved. The citizens are pleased that their political leaders did not fall for this scheme and now they want their leaders to tell these swindlers that they are free to purchase property just as any other private business anywhere in this region with their own money so there is no more reason for political leaders to be involved in this topic.

The small handful of people that have historically attended games for these failed soccer ventures in the past all appear to have commented here about their ideas for this soccer concept but there is no need for this idle chatter among people who will not be investing money in this venture and if these people have ideas they should offer up their money as investments, not simply post comments to hometown paper websites. The rest of the citizens have no interest in this dull game of soccer as they have shown through many failed ventures over the decades as the citizens invented more advanced games such as football bored with the dull game of soccer.

D should leave Miami

Wow D…. that is quite the "elitist" view. You don't want people who can't afford cars living in your city. Perhaps you can enlighten us as to why we even have public transportation? Yours is just another remark from an isolationist who doesn't do any research and just opens their mouth to see what might fly out.

Half man,  half amazing

I'm a soccer supporters and grew up playing American football along with basketball, so I'm not here to bash any sport. As for the Museum Park location, I give my views from a sport business prospective and based on that it's my opinion it wouldn't be a good deal for Mr. Beckham in the long run. Some of the issues I'm seeing are huge cost and the fact the location wouldn't be viable for the future growth of the sport. Every sport team that builds a stadium has to have an expansion contingency plan in place and because the height of the stadium would be restricted if the referendum is successful, it'll leave no room for future expansion growth for this new soccer stadium and club. The other issue is parking, in a few years there will be an enormous construction project going up West of Biscayne Blvd called "Miami World Center", most of the parking lots on the West end of Biscayne Blvd will be annexed to the city to be used for space needed to accommodate this huge construction project. If this happens and Beckham's stadium goes up in Museum Park, where will their fans park? I think Mayor Gimenez just rushed to find another waterfront site after he realized the PortMiami idea was quickly crumbling due to the efforts of Royal Caribbean macho. No one done their due diligence or even a feasibility report at this Museum Park site, but once it completed, I'm sure team Beckham will also realize this site will be more problematic and not as feasible as they thought it would be. I think a soccer stadium on the waterfront would be fantastic, but if it's not feasible then other sites should be looked at more realistically. I wasn't always a fan of the Miami river location next to the Marlin's stadium, but if done correctly and Beckham can build a show piece iconic stadium, I'm sure it'll be just as successful if it were on the waterfront. Sure this location isn't downtown, but it's a stone throw away from the heart of downtown Miami. The majority of the soccer loving communities of South Florida are in the Southwest and West suburbs of Miami Dade and the old Orange Bowl location is easily accessible from the 836 (Dolphin Expressway) and the Turnpike is accessible as well and public transportation is near to the old Orange Bowl site. If Beckham don't like this location, there are other great locations within Miami that they could explore as well. In the end, the true diehard soccer fans of South Florida really don't care where this stadium goes up, just as long as it's within the city of Miami. Beckham is being advised waterfront by Mayor Gimenez and his team of Real Estate Advisers because it'll be very lucrative for them, but the true fans don't care and only want their team in the end. As for People like Ed Jenkins, they are humorous! They say no one cares about soccer, but you ever notice it's these folks who are the most misinformed and yet so eager to put their ignorance on display for the World to see! Soccer is the largest participatory sport among kids in this country and the sport is the fastest growing sport in the country at the professional level among fans ages 18 to 36, currently Major League Soccer average more fans to their games than both the NBA and the NHL and those are facts that anyone here can research themselves. The MLS just recently completed the biggest and most lucrative National tv deal in league's history with their broadcasting partners ESPN, FOX SPORTS 1 and Univision. The deal nets the league at $90m a year for the next 7 years and also they (MLS) will be soon redoing their Canadian tv partnership deal with TNS to add to their current tv agreement in the United States. The National domestic professional soccer league called Major League Soccer (MLS) will be entering it's 20th season in 2015 and is currently the longest running professional soccer league in this country history. The current commissioner Don Garber has be the head of the league for the last 16 seasons and before that he was the commissioner for NFL Europe...he is a NFL guy running a soccer league! So Ed Jenkins, when you are trying to diminish soccer and it's recent popularity in this country, you are now armed with facts that you can use before you open your mouth to show the World your true ignorance. Your worries shouldn't be soccer, focus on the Marlin's who struggles to get 12,000 fans to their new 37,000 seat stadium and your Miami Dolphins with dwindling attendance issues for the last 4 years...that's where your focus should be, not with soccer! Then again, maybe that's why you are worried about soccer and it's growth, regardless of that, it's your problem! The World is changing around you, you can be a part of it or just get out of the way. As a sports guy I'm telling you it's not cool to bash any sports!

ThePeople'sTeam

@Half Man, Half Amazing You are right on the mark. Ever notice how soccer fans don't waste their time and bash other people's sports, but it's always the fans of other sports who demonstrate their ignorance and intolerance and feel compelled to bash soccer.

People in Miami are ready to join MLS. Now let's do it in a sustainable and responsible manner. If that means building near downtown but not in a park that's fine. But let's just do it (apologies to Adidas since that a Nike slogan!). Miami is all in.

Half man,  half amazing

@ThePeople'sTeam, great post! As soccer supporters we're also sympathetic to the concerns of our fellow citizens, soccer is a sport that unifies it's community and if building this stadium in a location that will divide this city, then we're being counterproductive and contradictory of true soccer supporters. Together both the residents and the local soccer supporters in my opinion should come together and find common ground to where both sides could find happiness. But I strongly believe that the community needs to come together on this issue and find a solution together. Beckham did say he wants this to be a team of the people, then the people and Beckham should come together and resolve this together. As for those fools who feel compelled to bash soccer for no other good reason but hate or fear, it's the same way racism works also. Lack of intelligence and intolerance!

D

Shut up already you soccer morons, no one but you handful of losers writing here cares about this godawful game. Go ahead and pat yourself on the back that tv networks are paying more fees for your crap, there isn't a sport in this country that isn't getting higher fees since all of the new sports networks are popping up and starting bidding wars over crap that no one watches just to fill their schedules. You idiots pat yourselves on the back as if any of that money is going in your pockets well it isn't you public transportation taking losers, I can't believe that a league would brag about getting a sum as putrid as $90 million that is pathetic and I bet girls basketball gets that much, another sports that shouldn't even be on the air.

Sociopaths

Miami Dade County District 7

To the Editor:
David Beckham and MLS (Major League Soccer) have always said they need a downtown stadium to bring a team to Miami. From the start, David Beckham’s efforts have been honest and open, and he has shown willingness to sit with each and every one of the sectors of our great community to find solutions and answer questions, rather than hiding behind newspaper ads and undefined coalitions. Recently, Mayor Gimenez provided the ownership group a second viable site. Rather than the opposition mounting a silly attack against this site, too, it’s time to find solutions to make this happen whether at the port or the FEC slip. Soccer needs to come to Miami, and either site would be amazing.
Mr. Beckham is not asking for public funds. Miami deserves a great team and stadium, not more squabbling that will cause us to lose out. The moment for securing a site for the stadium is now. Thank you for your consideration. Silvia Caviglia, Pinecrest


IN LOBBYIST SILVIA WE TRUST? REALLY?

p 100 0f 165 http://southmiami.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?vie...
To: The Honorable Mayor & Members of the City Commission
CITY OF SOUTH MIAMI OFFICE OF THE CITY MANAGER INTER-OFFICE MEMORANDUM From: Hector Mirabile. PhD. City Manager Date: June I, 2012
A Resolution authorizing the City Manager to enter into a 3-year agreement with the South Miami Grey Ghosts Soccer Club for the Management of Soccer Programs at South Miami Park.
References There are five recommendation letters attached. We feel that the letters accurately attest
to the character, experience and professionalism of the applicants which are submitted by the following individuals:
1. Marino Torrens, President, Florida Youth Soccer Association
3. Silvia Caviglia, Club President and Founder, Miami Premier Soccer Club
5. Jose "Pepel! Diaz, Miami Dade County Commissioner

May 8,2012 Evaluation Committee: I am writing to provide my personal reference on behalf of Javier Rodriguez. At this time, I would like to introduce myself to those who may not know me, and refresh the memory of others that may have known me for too long. My name is Silvia Caviglia. I have been quietly but deeply involved with the City of South Miami since 1998. The first contact was made through your Parks and Recreations Department Director at the time, Ana Garcia......
As per myself, my "lobbying" efforts on behalf of the soccer programs landed me a job at the County Commissioner for District 7, Jimmy Morales......
I went on to create the adult women's soccer league that has successfully conducted activities at Palmer Park during the last 10 years. Those are my credentials. Now, I would like to speak about Mr. Rodriguez..... Javier is a wonderful young man, with a beautiful and growing family. He is intelligent, dedicated and responsible and has always pursued excellence in all of his endeavors, as a lawyer, businessman and now as an accomplished husband and father. He is also a sweet and affectionate person, always caring and protective of his loved ones and his work. In sum, I am sure Javier win be a great choice to conduct and manage the soccer programs at South Miami Park as well as a wonderful addition in the South Miami community. Please feet free to contact me directly at (305) 804-2752. In the event that you need any further information or references of Mr. Rodriguez, I believe my information is on file at City Hall.
http://www.southmiamifl.gov/DocumentCenter/View/6...
ADDENDUM No. #3
Project Name: Management of Soccer Programs at Downrite/South Miami Park
RFP NO. PR-2014-01 Date: February 5, 2014
Question #1:
Are the South Miami Grey Ghosts in default of their current contract? In August 2012, The Grey Ghosts won an RFP that authorized them as the park’s vendor over a three year time period, from August 2012 through June 2015.
Answer to Question #1: The South Miami Gray Ghosts are in default of their contract.

Rebe

omg are you people all dense, do you even live near the site, seriously researched a decision? Um no...NO ONE goes to the boat slip for water access..it's an eyesore full of garbage next to a pile of dirt. Commissioners have been promising for ages that we'll get something there..finally something comes along that would clean it up, provide lush green space, and be paid for by private money, not tax dollars, and they nix it..what the hell is their problem???

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