David Beckham’s quest to build a soccer-specific stadium at the Miami seaport for his MLS expansion team is not being welcomed by his prospective neighbors, reports Sports Illustrated.
Royal Caribbean and its allies at PortMiami have continued to go on the offensive to voice their opposition to Beckham and his ownership group building a stadium at the sought-after location. After taking out a full-page ad in the Miami Herald a couple of weeks ago, the Miami Seaport Alliance released a YouTube video to hammer home its point — that a stadium at PortMiami won’t fly.
Using the new Miami Marlins baseball stadium as a reference point, the ad implores decision makers to not make another stadium mistake in Southern Florida, beginning its statement by issuing the warning, “Before we get stuck with another stadium deal here in Miami…”
Where this gets really awkward is not just for Miamians, but for uber lobbyist Brian Ballard.
That’s because Ballard represents Cruise Lines International Association, the official trade organization of the cruise industry of North America, as well as Miami Beckham United, LLC, the holding company for Beckham’s soccer club.
Cruise Lines International Association is not directly involved in the debate over the Miami soccer club, but its members include several of the cruise lines opposed to Beckham Stadium.
Of course, when you have a client list as long as Ballard’s, there are bound to be these types of conflicts.
Meanwhile, Miami-Dade County got a peek Sunday at the acrimony it can expect over the next weeks and perhaps months as this debate plays out, reports the Miami Herald.
John Alschuler, the New York-based real-estate adviser for David Beckham, the retired English player who wants to build a home for his new franchise at the seaport, squabbled on local television with John Fox, a former Royal Caribbean Cruises vice president who is leading the opposition against the waterfront site.
On Miami Herald news partner WFOR-CBS 4’sFacing South Florida with Jim DeFede, Fox said his group, the Miami Seaport Alliance, wants soccer but not at the port, saying the southwest corner of Dodge Island, which is too shallow to accommodate ships, has better uses for cruise and cargo growth.
That’s not how the port’s own master plan sees it, Alschuler countered, noting it envisions a major commercial development. Royal Caribbean is against a stadium there, he posited, “because they have a sweetheart real-estate deal” with the port for the company’s on-site headquarters.
Fox, who recently retired as vice president for governmental relations but remains Royal’s registered County Hall lobbyist, called the company the “biggest developer” at the port, building its facility and then turning over ownership to the port in exchange for the long-term lease.
“I’m not here representing Royal Caribbean’s interest,” he said.
The alliance includes both local longshoremen unions and two stevedoring companies that load and unload cargo at the port, as well as Royal and billionaire auto magnate Norman Braman, an opponent of public deals for private sports teams who has said the combination of soccer and commercial development on the port would be a “fiasco.”
Over the next few days, the alliance plans to release a list of 20 city mayors who oppose a port stadium, Fox said. Many of them were also against a short-lived proposal last year to renovate the Miami Dolphins’ stadium partly with taxpayer funds.
Unlike that plan, Beckham and his investors would privately pay for construction for the 25,000 seat stadium, which the group estimates would cost about $250 million at the port. The partners are seeking a state subsidy that could amount to $40 million over 20 years.