The mayor of Miami says he's mystified by David Beckham's plan to build a soccer stadium in Overtown without parking garages.
"There's all this hoopla about a stadium," said Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado. "But the parking has not been addressed."
His comments touch on a clear drawback in Beckham dropping a site next to Marlins Park in favor of property just north of the Miami River in Overtown.
While the new site freed the Beckham group from negotiating with a patchwork of private land owners and various non-compete provisos in the Marlins deal, it also meant the soccer stadium couldn't use the four city-owned garages built for the baseball stadium.
While there will be some parking underneath the planned Beckham stadium, according to Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, Beckham's group so far has suggested the vast majority of spectators would need to park elsewhere and walk to games.
"There are ample parking resources in the area-- 6,800 spaces within a half-mile proximity, to be exact," said Neisen Kasdin, a Miami land-use lawyer and lobbyist representing Beckham. He said the accounting includes parking lots under I-95, about three blocks away, and garages in the Overtown Transit Village, which sits about five blocks away from the soccer site at 650 NW 8th St.
The Overtown site is the fourth pursued publicly by the Beckham group (following land at PortMiami, the downtown Miami waterfront, and Marlins Park) and Kasdin noted it also is the one closest to a Metrorail station. The Culmer station sits about three blocks away.
Overtown is one of Miami's poorest neighborhoods, and also the scene of some high-profile shootings. Regalado said he did not think Culmer would be a popular destination for soccer fans. "I really don't know how you could possibly walk from Culmer Station," he said. "I think it's too far." Referring to the tradition in some cities of soccer fans "marching to the match," Regalado said: "I don't think there is that kind of culture -- even the fans that used to walk in their country, they've gotten used to their cars."
In the interview with Naked Politics, Regalado did retract one possible obstacle for the proposed stadium: a so-called "reverter clause" on a patch of county land the Beckham group plans to purchase.
Used as a garage by the county's water-and-sewer department, the three-acre piece of land used to be owned by Florida Power and Light. In an interview recorded Friday on WPBT2's Issues program, Regalado said city officials "believe" Miami at one point transferred the parcel with the right to take it back if the event of a change in the property's intended use.
A reverter clause at PortMiami was one complication Beckham hit when pursuing that site. And many county sewer facilities have reverter clauses from when Miami transferred them to the county decades ago. But on Monday, county water-and-sewer officials produced documents showing Miami-Dade obtained the land from a private owner using eminent domain.
Monday night, Regalado confirmed that the proposed soccer site is not encumbered by a reverter clause -- saying city staff informed him Friday afternoon, hours after the WPBT taping. "For us," Regalado said, "it's just another piece of land you have to rezone."
This post was updated to shorten the distance between the proposed soccer site and the Overtown Transit Village.