David Beckham’s goal of launching a MLS team in Miami may be making a detour.
According to a report in The Miami Herald newspaper, Beckham’s team have expressed an interest in speaking with Broward County officials to begin talks regarding the possibility of finding a suitable location for a MLS stadium in the county north of Miami-Dade.
Beckham’s original plans to find a location in downtown Miami have hit several roadblocks. The initial PortMiami project was rejected after pressure from Royal Caribbean Cruises. The second proposed stadium location, next to American Airlines Arena, was dismissed by local politicians.
The search for a third stadium option in downtown Miami has been a struggle, and the developments have now turned political. Last week, Beckham’s Miami MLS team released a statement, saying that “We are dismayed by a lack of effective political leadership in the county and the city.” The fingers are pointed at Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez who, according to a Miami MLS supporters group, has not responded to Beckham’s advisers in 3 weeks.
With Beckham hitting a political brick wall in Miami, his team’s decision to reach out to Broward County can be seen as either (a) a political maneuver to force Miami to re-engage with Beckham, or (b) a sincere effort by Beckham to explore new options.
The political roadblocks in Miami-Dade County have forced Beckham’s hand. Broward County Commissioner Stacy Ritter said “Beckham’s group was very unhappy with the parcel that Miami-Dade wanted to provide,” Ritter said. “We’re easier to deal with than the county to the south.”
Last month, Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton contacted Beckham’s group about using its 30,000 seat football stadium for the MLS team. Last May, Germany and Ecuador played an international friendly at the facility and the United States Women’s Team has played multiple matches at the stadium as well.
Unlike Miami-Dade County, Broward County has a proven record as a successful soccer market. The County also has more options for stadium sites, including land in western Broward County near the stadium for the Florida Panthers hockey team. That location would be conveniently accessible for soccer fans throughout all three South Florida counties (Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach). That location would also allow for future growth and easy access from several major highways. Parking would be much less of a problem at this location than at any of the discussed locations in Miami-Dade County.
The potential U-turn by David Beckham to consider a stadium in Broward County instead of Miami-Dade will be a familiar story to soccer fans in the area. Originally, the Miami Fusion MLS team were supposed to call the Orange Bowl home in Miami. But talks between the Fusion, MLS and Miami-Dade officials broke down in 1998, forcing the Fusion owner Ken Horowitz to move the team to Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.