Beckham vows to bring MLS to Miami as new stadium plan faces opposition

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MIAMI, July 13, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Former England captain David Beckham told
supporters he was bringing Major League Soccer to Miami “no matter what”
Thursday, even as his latest stadium plan sparked opposition.

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder and his partners
presented Miami commissioners with a proposal that would see their 25,000-
seat stadium — along with a hotel and entertainment and retail space — take
over the site of Melreese Country Club, where the publicly owned golf course
houses the youth golf program First Tee Miami.

Commissioners were considering whether to ask Miami voters if the city
should change its rules for competitive bidding on private use of public
land.

A referendum on the issue would be on the ballot in November, and only if
it passed would the city negotiate with Beckham’s group on details of the
plan.

“It’s been a long time since I walked into a room and people didn’t smile
at me. It’s not nice,” Beckham told hundreds of children and adults who
attended the meeting to voice opposition to the project.

More than 130 beneficiaries of the First Tee program, wearing orange tee
shirts, arrived before 6:00 am, although supporters of Beckham turned out,
too.

“We are a community center, we are not just a golf course,” John Moscoso,
program director for First Tee Miami, told AFP. he said the Miami chapter
offers services to more than 2,500 children and young adults a year.

“If a stadium is set up in this area, these children will not have anywhere
to go after school, and we know what happens when these children have nowhere
to go,” he said.

Beckham acknowledged their concerns, but noted the 44-hectare project,
called Miami Freedom Park, would include along with the stadium, a 750-room
hotel, restaurant and retail space, a public park and youth soccer fields.

“I grew up in the East End of London, with a working class family, Beckham
said. “I was given the opportunity to play the game I love … We’re trying
to make you realize this is an opportunity here.”

Jorge Mas, the Miami tycoon who is part of Beckham’s ownership group, urged
commissioners to put the matter to Miami voters.

He said the project, which will be developed with $1 billion in private
investment, will represent $44 million in taxes for the city as well as the
creation of 11,000 jobs over nine years.

“There isn’t a single site in Miami that we haven’t looked at,” Mas said of
the tortuous search for a suitable stadium site. “This is a decision for the
voters.”

Before Mas joined Beckham’s group, Beckham had proposed a stadium in a
downtown Miami neighborhood, a project that was abandoned amid criticism it
lacked parking and was going to worsen the already chaotic traffic of the
Florida city, in addition to displacing low-income residents.

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