Could the fourth time be the charm in David Beckham's quest for a soccer stadium in Miami?
On Friday Miami Beckham United announced that the prospective MLS ownership group has identified a site for a privately financed stadium in Overtown, northwest of downtown Miami in an area known as the Miami River District.
It is the fourth site pursued by the group after failed attempts at three other locations over two years -- at PortMiami, another bayfront location adjacent to the NBA's American Airlines Arena and most recently a site in Little Havana next to the Marlins Park baseball field.
"Miami Beckham United has secured a stadium development site at 650 Northwest 8th Street in the City of Miami's historic Overtown neighborhood," read a statement from Miami Beckham United. "We intend to create an assemblage of private and County-controlled land totaling approximately nine acres in Miami's urban core, within walking distance of multiple public transit options and the up-and-coming Miami River District. The private properties, which comprise the majority of the land, are under contract and we intend to purchase the County land at fair market value pending approval of our site by the MLS Board of Governors."
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez confirmed the signing of a letter of intent with Miami Beckham United for the acres owned by the county and managed by the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department. Beckham's prospective MLS ownership group "would pay fair market value for the property," according to Gimenez, in a sale that would be subject to approval by the Board of County Commissioners.
“The signing of this non-binding Letter of Intent may be the most significant step in our collective efforts to make Major League Soccer a reality in Miami-Dade County," Gimenez said in a statement. "It is also further confirmation that Miami Beckham United wants its franchise to be in our community.”
The announcement comes just a day before the MLS Board of Governors is set to meet in Columbus, site of MLS Cup 2015 between Columbus Crew SC and the Portland Timbers (4 pm ET on ESPN and UniMas in USA; TSN and RDS2 in Canada).
"As we have said, this will be the most responsible stadium development in Miami history," continued the Miami Beckham United statement. "Construction of our venue will be privately financed and we will work with Miami-Dade County Public Schools to establish our club as an educational resource for the community. We will also engage nearby businesses and residents as we develop our stadium design and take steps to enhance the neighborhood.
"David [Beckham], Simon [Fuller], Marcelo [Claure] and Tim [Leiweke] would like to thank Mayors Gimenez and Regalado, Commissioners at the City and County, and Superintendent Carvalho for their leadership and willingness to assist us throughout this process. Most importantly, we appreciate the support and patience of our fans who share David's dream of fielding a world-class soccer club in Miami. We've never been closer to making that vision a reality, and we appreciate the consideration of Commissioner Garber and the MLS Board of Governors."