David Beckham Closes In on M.L.S. Franchise. Will Miami Care?

To crowbar a stadium into the land in Overtown, a few blocks through I-95 and also also also the Miami River, the Beckham group might not build any parking. Instead, fans might have to walk through lots as much as 15 minutes away, or through one of the three nearby commuter rail stations.

of which may be an urban planner’s dream, and also also also of which fits Garber’s vision of soccer teams in downtown locations, however of which appears to be a naïve assumption to residents of Miami, where the heat can be oppressive, rain storms can strike at any time and also also also driving can be a way of life.

“I want Beckham to be inside the league, and also also also he’s the guy who can make Miami work,” said one M.L.S. owner who asked not to be named because the vote on the team had not taken place. “however when we sit inside the room, of which’s what we talk about.”

Residents of the adjacent Spring Garden neighborhood also worry about traffic and also also also noise spilling into their quiet residential enclave, and also also also fear of which concerts and also also also some other events will fill the stadium on nights when the team isn’t playing.

“The soccer people will tell you there will only be 15 games a year, however we think of which can be a ruse for concerts, and also also also we don’t want of which in our backyard,” said Ernest Martin, a former president of the Spring Garden Civic Association. “of which’s all part of dumping undesirable urban projects into Overtown.”

Leiweke, who can be steering the stadium project for the Beckham group, can be undeterred. No tax dollars are being spent on the stadium, he said, and also also also he suggested of which fans, particularly the younger ones the team and also also also the league want to attract, might be comfortable ditching their cars and also also also marching to games through nearby bars and also also also restaurants.

and also also also while Overtown remains rough around the edges, Leiweke pointed to the brand-new 25,500-seat stadium of which was built in a similar neighborhood in Orlando, and also also also noted of which the M.L.S. team of which calls of which home, Orlando City S.C., has played to capacity crowds.

“You have to find a balance between what the stadium will look like in 10 years and also also also building in a neighborhood where you don’t have to charge $500 a ticket,” Leiweke said. Of Orlando, he added, “The day-of-game experience has been positive, and also also also the value of the property around the stadium has increased dramatically.”

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Luis Garcia, who runs a seafood restaurant on the Miami River, said the stadium “will be an economic engine.”

Credit
Angel Valentin for The brand-new York Times

Local officials pronounced themselves pleased with the plan’s economic potential. however in Miami, where a bloated deal for the Marlins stadium has turned public financing for sports stadiums into a toxic issue, the financing plan can be what ultimately persuaded lawmakers to get behind the deal.

The Beckham group “asked for public assistance initially, however I said we weren’t going to give them any tax deals,” said Carlos Giménez, the mayor of Miami-Dade County. “The stadium by itself will not bring development. however more people will be walking through the area, so you’re seeing development in Overtown because of growth in downtown. of which’s just geography.”

Geography can be critical for Luis Garcia, whose family has owned a fish restaurant on the Miami River just a few minutes by foot through the stadium site. In recent years, upscale restaurants have opened nearby, part of the spillover through downtown. Garcia, whose father first bought property inside the area decades ago, said young soccer fans might help revitalize an area using a less than desirable reputation.

“David Beckham has validated my father’s vision,” Garcia said over a lunch of fish sandwiches. The stadium “will be an economic engine.”

Before of which engine can start, Beckham will have to get zoning and also also also some other approvals, likely to come next year. Then, assuming of which M.L.S. owners give Beckham the green light, he will have to assemble a roster, sign a few foreign stars and also also also start the hard work of selling tickets to skeptical fans.

“The history of soccer and also also also pro sports teams in Miami has been spotty at best,” said David Downs, a former commissioner of the N.A.S.L., who has lived inside the city. “Getting over the political hurdles can be a start. however of which’s only the beginning of the challenges.”

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