Miami mayor proposes new site for Beckham stadium

Former captain of England soccer team David Beckham arrives at a ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on April 21, 2014. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS
Former captain of England soccer team David Beckham arrives at a ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on April 21, 2014. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

MIAMI (AFP) - Miami Mayor Carlos Gimenez has proposed a new waterfront site for a stadium for David Beckham’s new soccer team, amid local resistance to the English football icon’s current plans.

In a letter to the group working with Beckham, Mr Gimenez suggested the stadium be built at a pier near the port of Miami in congested downtown Miami.

It also would be next to the American Airlines Arena where the Miami Heat basketball team plays.

“Downtown Miami will greatly benefit from the creation of a grand waterfront park that will serve to bring our urban core closer to the water, providing a magnificent bay front walk along Biscayne Bay,” Gimenez said.

“This combined area provides many of the criteria being sought by your group, including a Downtown Miami location, ease of ingress and egress, parking, and access to public transportation.”

The former star of Real Madrid and Manchester United wants to build a US$250 million (S$311.9 million) state-of-the-art open air stadium with 25,000 seats for his recently acquired US Major League Soccer (MLS) team.

But shipping interests and local authorities have opposed current proposals to locate it in the port of Miami for fear it will be disruptive to port operations.

The port is an important source of income and jobs, and the city has already spent millions to upgrade it to be able to receive the very large container ships expected once a widening of the Panama Canal is completed.

“It is a very nice site and we will be looking at it very closely over the next couple of weeks,” Neisen Kasdin, Beckham’s attorney in Miami, told AFP, referring to Mr Gimenez’s proposal.

The cost of filling in the pier, which the local press reports say could be high, will be “part of the analysis,” he said.

Beckham last week scored an important victory when the Florida state legislature approved a new law that provides up to US$2 million in subsidies for professional sports teams that build new stadiums.

The stadium should be ready between 2017-2018 to house Beckham’s team, which has not yet been named.