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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Joy filled the air Monday as David Beckham was officially granted a Major League Soccer franchise.
The team plans to play in a stadium yet to be built, located on nine acres in Overtown near the Miami River.
But opposition to the stadium is building.
Amanda Hand lives in Springtree, perhaps a block as the crow flies from the stadium site.
“I’m going have the roar of 25,000 fans,” Hand explained. “They’re planning about 40 events or more a year, only twenty of which will be soccer games, so the balance of which they’re going to be concerts.”
She also noted that because the stadium is open air, with no roof and some side openings, the sound will easily travel.
She is part of a growing backlash against the Overtown site, including those who think the stadium, empty more than 300 days a year, could depress an area trying to revitalize.
“A stadium, currently slated to bring fifty jobs to the community, doesn’t appear to have the economic benefits that are going to revitalize this community,” said Terrance Cribbs-Lorrant, a community activist.
Critics also point out there is no parking lot and no parking plan for the stadium project.
Those who live in surrounding low-income housing fear being displaced by a parking garage.
“We’ve been here all our lives, and for them to just come out here and try to push us out of our own neighborhood is just not right,” said Tony Farquaharson, who lives in the Culmer Apartments complex, which abuts the stadium site.
The city of Miami will have to approve zoning changes and permits to allow the stadium, including a street closure. The mayor is dodging the debate for the moment.
“I think it’s a little premature to get into those things,” said Mayor Francis Suarez of stadium design details, which have not yet been fully released. “As soon as we know, we’ll comment on those things.”
Beyond community opposition, there are more shots being fired at the stadium plan.
Bruce Matheson of the legendary philanthropic Matheson family, who blocked expansion of the Miami Open tennis tournament on Crandon Park, forcing its move to Hard Rock stadium, is suing, claiming the county violated the law in selling public land to Beckham’s group with no bids and an old appraisal of the land’s value.
Matheson lost an earlier court ruling, but promises an appeal, saying the county not only failed to follow a legal process in the land sale, but that Overtown is, “not an appropriate location for a Major League soccer stadium.”
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez is dismissive of Matheson’s legal challenge.
“Mr. Matheson’s lawsuit we think is frivolous, has no basis, and we think we’re going to win in the end. Actually, we’re confident we’re going to win in the end,” said Gimenez, ironically using a sports metaphor, win, in the debate over a soccer stadium venue.
Beckham hopes to have his stadium built and team playing in it for the 2021 MLS season. Time meanwhile is-a-wasting.
There are many bureaucratic goals Beckham’s group has yet to score, and no shortage of opponents to the project will be defending against it.