Soccer in Miami is a fantastic idea for the ones that know and understand the landscape of the sport. From the bleachers, I wanted to see the success for myself. I don’t plan to take sides of yea or nay just yet. However, a Miami Major League Soccer team still can’t find a location to play the game.
The team itself being here with nearly four years of dreaming in the making almost did not become a reality. Local pushback on stadium sites and league resistance to giving David Beckham and partners a significant discount on the $150 million MLS expansion fee almost killed the dreams.
In late January there was jubilation at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts celebrating the MLS approval of the franchise. The icing on the cake included new leadership of local business executives paving the way for constructing a 25,000-seat stadium with private dollars on private land without government subsidies.
The Beckham partnership did not yet own the nine-acre site in the proposed Miami Overtown neighborhood announced in late 2015 as the chosen location. The Beckham group won permission to buy the country property for 9 million last year but has until later this year to close on the purchase.
The Beckham group started making public appearances in 2013 as Beckham was perusing Miami for sites. Fast forward today, the new team is scheduled to begin to play in 2020, possibly at a temporary location until the permanent stadium is ready in 2021. The team name, logo and colors will be rolled out in a few months, with input from fans.
The Beckham led group now is considering multiple locations across the area — a list that two sources say includes the grounds of the Hialeah Park casino.
“We’re actively looking at five or so sites,” said Jorge Mas, the Miami executive who became the public face of Beckham’s stadium hunt after he and brother José joined the partnership late last year. “There are a handful of sites that are interesting.”
I don’t know if they are calling the bluff or this is all part of the plan to make this move semi-smoothly. When you read between the lines, the Mas brothers want the 25,000-seat stadium built somewhere other than Overtown, the Miami neighborhood that has been the Beckham group’s announced site since the team was officially celebrated. This is not the group formally confirming their interest in leaving in leaving Overtown. Instead, they are a team in Miami with nowhere to play.