MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami-Dade County Commission approved legislation Tuesday that allows Mayor Carlos Gimenez to identify possible stadium locations and begin negotiations with private developers of a stadium.
“We welcome the stadium with open arms,” Commission Chairwoman Rebeca Sosa said. “I think that is something that’s going to be positive for the community.”
The rest of the board seemed to agree, voting unanimously to give the mayor the authority to start working on the details of the plan.
“I firmly believe that MLS in Miami is going to be an outstanding situation for us,” said Commissioner Esteban Bovo. “I think it will be a win-win situation and I’m enthusiastically awaiting their arrival and their participation. But I just wanted to make sure for the record that we do not walk down the plank of other issues that we’ve dealt with.
Marlins Park comes to mind.
Commissioners are adamant about keeping local taxpayer dollars out of the mix.
“No public funds, no taxpayer money from Miami-Dade County. They’re going to pay for it the whole way,” Gimenez said. “If we use a county owned piece of land, there will be a rent attached to that. I think this is a great first step.”
The next step would be finding the perfect piece of land to build the stadium.
Investors, led by international soccer icon David Beckham, have toured several location as prospective temporary venues until a permanent soccer-specific stadium can be built.
Beckham visited Marlins Park last month and FIU and SunLife Stadium this summer.
He has expressed interest in setting up shop in Miami’s downtown core.
The talks will likely focus on a location near PortMiami’s Dodge Island.
Sosa is not a fan of that idea.
“I don’t see the relation of a soccer stadium with the big boats and the big cargo that is coming from Panama,” she said. “This will be detrimental in there.
Mayor Gimenez concedes a stand-alone stadium does not make sense for the Port, but said a plan could work with a little extra vision.
“It’s an interesting option. Not just placing the stadium there. It has to be in conjunction with other development that will create a) revenue for the port, and b) a great public space. If you’ve ever been there, the view back to Miami is specatular and very few people get to see that,” he said.
Beckham can purchase a franchise at a deeply discounted rate and South Florida is at the top of his list. However, MLS wants a soccer stadium as a condition for getting a new franchise for any city.
A handful of stadium supporters filed in to County Hall Tuesday in matching t-shirts.
“I love soccer and I believe in American soccer. I’m from the city,” Max Ramos-Paez said. “Having a team would make it grow even more.”
Ramos-Paez and some buddies have started a fan club, Southern Legion, in hopes of garnering support for MLS in Miami.
The legislation approved by commission allows Gimenez to “negotiate and finalize” agreements for the stadium and then present said contracts for commissioners to approve. The resolution also forces three public meetings on the issue before a final vote of approval.
According to the Herald, Gimenez’s administration will also be mandated to produce a feasibility report including an assessment on the business, economic, and traffic impacts of a new stadium, wherever it is finally located.
(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)