David Beckham's Stadium Spot Already Home to Artificial Coral Reef, Says Marine Biologist
Less than a week after David Beckham unveiled his ambitious plan for a Major League Soccer stadium atop the FEC boat slip downtown, the location was back in the headlines yesterday. One politician was angry with other politicians for slipping the slip stuff past him, or something.
There is real news about the proposed stadium site, however, and it's that the FEC boat slip isn't the empty bath tub full of "brackish" water that it's been made out to be. Instead, it's home to a thriving artificial coral reef, according to marine biologist Colin Foord.
"The developers are saying that filling this slip is like going from a Chevy to a Cadillac," Foord tells Riptide. "Well, wait a minute. There is a reef here!"
Last Thursday, Beckham's business partner Marcelo Claure and his real estate adviser John Alschuler laid out the group's plan for a 20,000-seat soccer stadium where the boat slip sits.
Alschuler dismissed concerns over filling the slip as tantamount to complaining that your Chevy had been upgraded to a Cadillac. Miamians wouldn't miss the slip, where the water doesn't circulate into Biscayne Bay and is "brackish" and dirty, he said.
(Indeed, the slip appears so stagnant that even opponents of the stadium plan prefer to focus on possible future uses of the site rather than what's there now.)
But under the surface, the slip is home to some amazing lifeforms, Foord claims. Instead of eating barbecue and attending the Heat game, the spiky-haired marine biologist spent his Memorial Day diving into the turbid water next to American Airlines Arena. Even Foord, South Florida's native coral nerd, was surprised by what he found.
"If you go to the FEC slip right now, it's full of garbage," Foord admits, "but it's not always like that. It's like that now because of the Port [of Miami] dredge."
Foord, half of the experimental science/art group Coral Morphologic, filmed his foray into the FEC slip.
"We've got lobsters, green moray eels, and phosphorescent brain coral down there, right along Biscayne Boulevard," he says in amazement. He says the slip -- and more generally Biscayne Bay -- is a unique ecosystem created by the mix of city sewer water and fresh ocean water pulled in through Government Cut.