Newspaper ad against Becks' plans for Miami arena

Opponents of the 25,000-seater waterfront stadium proposal from David Beckham, seen here addressing the media at Miami Dade College in downtown Miami last month, said it would hurt the city's ambition to position the port as a major gateway for shipp
Opponents of the 25,000-seater waterfront stadium proposal from David Beckham, seen here addressing the media at Miami Dade College in downtown Miami last month, said it would hurt the city's ambition to position the port as a major gateway for shippers, given its proximity to the Panama Canal.PHOTO: REUTERS

MIAMI (United States) - An alliance of shipping interests and a billionaire car dealer launched a newspaper advertisement on Monday protesting against retired English football star David Beckham's plans for an arena at the port of Miami.

They said that it threatens the city's plans to capitalise on the expansion of the Panama Canal.

"We cannot jeopardise well-paying jobs, like crane operators, longshore workers and mechanics, for low-paying stadium jobs, such as concession sales," the Miami Seaport Alliance said in a full-page advertisement that ran in the Miami Herald and its sister Spanish-language paper El Nuevo Herald.

The group is led by John Fox who has retired as Royal Caribbean Cruise Line's head of governmental affairs.

It also includes two chapters of the International Longshoremen's Association and two stevedore companies, whose workers load and unload ships, along with car dealer Norman Braman, one-time owner of American football team Philadelphia Eagles.

Beckham last month unveiled detailed plans for a 25,000-seat waterfront stadium with sweeping views of downtown Miami.

Development of the 14.4ha space would cost about US$200 million (S$250 million) and include shops, hotels and offices that would be connected to the mainland by a pedestrian bridge.

The port's master plan calls for the development of convention, hotel and office space on the same site.

Before Monday's advertisement, only Royal Caribbean, which is headquartered at the port, had come out publicly against Beckham's proposal.

"The plan doesn't interfere with port operations," said Neisen Kasdin, an adviser for the Beckham group.

"It will likely generate more revenue for the port in the shorter term than other concepts that have been discussed."

Yet, a growing list of opponents noted that a stadium would jeopardise Miami's aspiration of becoming a more attractive choice for global shippers looking to distribute goods to the American market.

"There are plenty of other places for the stadium to be," Braman said in a telephone interview.

Miami officials hope the port's short distance from the Panama Canal, as well as US$2 billion of planned infrastructure upgrades, including cranes to unload the ships and a US$1 billion tunnel connecting the port to major highways, will increase its appeal.

REUTERS