Ten Things You Need to Know About David Beckham's Proposed Bay-Front Soccer Stadium
Yesterday, David Beckham's team of investors and real estate advisers unveiled an ambitious plan to build a soccer stadium atop what is now a boat slip on Biscayne Bay. "We want to bring the world's greatest game to the world's greatest city," said Beckham's Bolivian billionaire business partner, Marcelo Claure.
Arquitectonica A preliminary sketch of what David Beckham's bay-front soccer stadium would look like if approved.
The new proposal replaces a politically unpopular plan for a stadium at PortMiami, but it still faces plenty of opposition. Some are suspicious of any stadium deal, so badly were they burned by the Miami Marlins boondoggle. Others claim Beckham's blueprints are bad for Biscayne Bay.
Whatever your angle, here are ten things you need to know about Beckham's bay-front stadium proposal.
1. Beckham's Stadium Will Transform the Waterfront
The one thing that everyone can agree on is that, if approved, Beckham's stadium will radically transform the downtown waterfront. Although sketches suggest that the stadium itself will be much lower -- and lower key -- than it would have been at PortMiami, putting it just north of American Airlines Arena will require some serious reshuffling. First, it will require the filling of the FEC boat slip next to American Airlines Arena. John Alschuler, Beckham's real estate advisor, says the group is prepared to pump $20-30 million into filling the boat slip and other infrastructure. That's on top of the actual stadium, which could cost more than $200 million.
2. It Will Add Parkland
Beckham's soccer stadium can't completely fit where the boat slip is, so it will also have to sit atop part of what is now Museum Park. But Alschuler and Claure were at pains to point out that their plan will actually increase the amount of parkland by 4.3 acres, or around 23 percent. That's because land will be added between the stadium and the water, as well as in front of American Airlines Arena.
"We've made it 20 percent bigger and 100 percent better," Alschuler said of the park. "The orientation of the park now runs along your greatest resource, which is Biscayne Bay." He said that a $150 million plan to create a long, uninterrupted bay front park back in 1997 had been allowed to fizzle into a mere $10 million landscaping project today. "We've seen a history of diminishing resources in this park," he said. Beckham's stadium would put some ambition back into park.
3. But It Eliminate Part of Biscayne Bay
If Beckham gets his way, the FEC boat slip will be gone. Whether we should care or not is up for debate. Alschuler called the boat slip water "brackish" and said there was "nothing natural about the shore" or sea bottom. But Stuart Sorg, a retired Navy SEAL and chairman of the City's Waterfront Advisory Board, says filling in the boat slip would be a mistake. "It's a beautiful piece of land that should remain the same way it is," he says. "Open land is so important. We try to save land for the people, not just to cover it up and put something on it, let alone a stadium that will be empty most of the time.
His worries are echoed by Laura Reynolds, executive director of the Tropical Audubon Society. In a statement distributed at the press conference, she questioned whether the boat slip could even be legally filled in. "We contend that the people of Florida, Miami-Dade County, and the Florida Legislature intended for Biscayne Bay to be held in the public trust to enjoy water dependent activities for ours and future generations," she said. "We contend that Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves is Miami's great urban park."