Major League Soccer was on the mind of Miami Commissioner Frank Carollo when he received draft legislation Friday dealing with the deep-water boat slip that David Beckham would like to fill to build a potential downtown stadium.
The proposed resolution would transfer maintenance and operations of the water basin known as the Florida East Coast Railway slip to the city from the Bayfront Park Management Trust, a Miami agency Carollo chairs. Language in the resolution claims the management trust, which has run the slip on a supposedly temporary basis since 2006, "wishes" to return the property's control to the city. The trust has never discussed such a thing, according to Carollo.
To the commissioner, it sounded like City Hall was getting ahead of any discussions with Beckham and his investors, who said last week that the FEC slip is now their top stadium location.
"It sort of smells," Carollo said after the trust meeting, which drew a few television news crews. "If we're really having an open, transparent process, we should know about something like this."
That's not to say the trust wouldn't be willing to turn over slip control to the city in the event that Miami does work out a deal with Beckham, which would likely involve conveying the stadium footprint -- now owned by the city -- to the county. "But I don't think we're there yet," Carollo said.
Mayor Tomás Regalado said the resolution has been in the works for months and is unrelated to the stadium: "This has nothing to do with that," he said.
City Manager Daniel Alfonso said the administration, through the public facilities department, requested the legislation before the stadium frenzy began, as part of a long-discussed idea by Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, who represents downtown, to create a conservancy to manage neighboring Museum Park (and, perhaps, the FEC slip). Sarnoff said conservancy plans have not moved forward, and he is not familiar with the resolution: "I've had zero to do with this."
Either way, Alfonso said no one in his office or several other departments that must approve resolutions had signed off. And since neither the conservancy nor the stadium are ripe ideas yet, the legislation won't be on the commission's June agenda as proposed, he said.
For Beckham and his group, though, Tuesday's scuffle is an indicator of how talks with the city are likely to go: Every move will be scrutinized. And it won't just be Regalado who will be involved -- commissioners will want a say, too.
This post has been updated with comments from Mayor Regalado and Commissioner Sarnoff.