David Beckham moved forward Monday with plans to build a Major League Soccer stadium in Miami, agreeing to work with officials to pursue an alternative site downtown.
Miami Beckham United consultant John Alschuler said the group met with Miami officials who recommended locating the stadium near the AmericanAirlines Arena where the Miami Heat play.
He said details were still being worked out, but that there was a general agreement to move forward with discussions about a fair market rent and design for that site.
“I think on balance, you know, everybody felt that this site was one that was in the best interest of the citizens and we believe in the best interest of the soccer fans,” Alschuler said.
Both the city and county mayors will need to present their recommendation to commissioners for approval. Alschuler said a referendum will also be presented to Miami voters.
The Beckham group had previously expressed their preference for building the stadium at PortMiami. They faced resistance from a spectrum of business and political leaders. The Miami Seaport Alliance contends the stadium would threaten cruise and cargo operations, creating increased traffic and security risks.
Beckham’s partners contend those claims are unfounded, noting that soccer fans visiting the stadium would be arriving hours after most passengers and cruise ships depart.
However, they agreed to consider the site now in discussion after Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez sent Alschuler a letter asking them to look at the location between Museum Park and AmericanAirlines Arena. The site is currently occupied by a large unused boat slip that could be filled and linked to other bay-area attractions.
One concern that has already arisen about the site is whether it would reduce downtown Miami’s already limited remaining green space. Alschuler said Monday they plan to increase the amount of park area by 20 percent.
Additional questions remain regarding environmental permits as well.
Mike Hernandez, a spokesman for Gimenez, said PortMiami could still be considered if the boat slip site falls through.
“The PortMiami site isn’t necessarily off the table,” he said. “It’s just Plan B.”
Republished with permission of the Associated Press.