MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Residents of Miami finally have a waterfront park that nearly became a professional soccer stadium.
Museum Park was promised to residents by the City of Miami 14 years ago, as part of the City of Miami’s preservation of public land. The intent was to give people, not big business, ownership of Miami’s waterfront.
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Museum Park’s 30 acres nearly became a multi-million major league soccer stadium, after soccer star David Beckham asked to use some of the land. The park’s boat slip would have been filled in to accommodate the stadium.
Miami-Dade County leaders and Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado wanted to use the slip between the American Airlines Arena and Museum Park for the stadium.
Those plans changed Monday, June 9th when Mayor Regalado pulled the plug on Beckham’s stadium. Residents pressured City of Miami leaders to keep their original promise of making the park a reality.
“I’m not interested in a soccer stadium,” said Miami resident Tim McGilvray, who attended the opening of the park. “The park will be a lot more usable and add more enjoyment to the living environment of the downtown area.”
At Saturday’s park opening, City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado wanted residents to know he had heard them.
“What we have heard from the thousands of downtown residents is that they love this park,” said Regalado. “I think (the park opening) means that (residents) own the waterfront. It means that they have a central park on the water. It means that they can come and enjoy at no cost.”
Only the first phase of construction for Museum Park is complete, said City Commissioner Marc Snaroff.
“In about 11 months, you’re going to have the Frost Museum, and it’s great food, and then we’re going to start building this park as we planned to do,” Snarnoff said.
Eventually, it will have restaurants, a children’s garden, and ironically, a public soccer field.
The new park boasts a broad promenade from Biscayne Boulevard to the bay, a new baywalk , paths with oak trees, a sandy “beach” and great views of Miami.
Just before 11:00 a.m. a U.S. Coast Guard training ship glided into the park’s deepwater slip.
Local officials aboard the ship inaugurated the park.
Those visiting the park will be able to get free afternoon tours of the ship for the next three days.