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Not just any port in a storm for Beckham's Miami team

Updated: 2014-03-26 08:34
By  Agencies in Miami ( China Daily)

David Beckham revealed design plans on Monday for a new state-of-the-art soccer stadium he hopes will be the eventual Miami waterfront home of his Major League Soccer franchise.

The English soccer icon unveiled plans for the open-air stadium with a design that features a curving rooftop canopy that would protect up to 35,000 spectators from the elements but also have an open center, providing bay front and skyline views.

"When people think of Miami, they immediately think about being near or on the water," the 38-year-old Beckham said during a news conference in downtown Miami on Monday.

"I asked my team to develop ideas for a stadium that embraces the best of the destination.

"Even though we are in the early stages of building the franchise, I believe we have a vision that not only Miami would be proud of, but one that will resonate around the world."

The plans also call for an adjacent complex that would include a commercial development and a public plaza.

But the centerpiece would be the stadium with steep grandstands which provide sweeping views of the field and give fans the feeling of being on top of the action.

Beckham is hoping that by releasing some details of the proposed stadium that he can help drum up support for the project.

He announced last month that he plans to build a MLS club from scratch in Miami.

The former Manchester United and England player, together with an investment group that could yet include Miami Heat basketball star LeBron James, is forking out a reported $25 million for the ambitious franchise.

Beckham, who retired last year after a career that also took him to Real Madrid, LA Galaxy and Paris Saint-Germain, is banking on his star pulling power and growing prominence in the US to create what he called a "global" team that can attract the best players in the world.

Beckham said by placing the stadium in the downtown waterfront area they can also find the same commercial success that the NBA Heat have enjoyed in Miami.

"I see the atmosphere that goes on down there. I have been to Heat games," Beckham said. "We want to be part of that."

But not everyone is on board with the downtown site, including Royal Caribbean Cruises which is located next to the proposed stadium.

"We have shared our serious reservations about the suitability of PortMiami as a location for a stadium," Cynthia Martinez, Royal Caribbean's director for global corporate communications, wrote in an e-mail on Monday.

Some civic officials have also expressed concerns about potential parking and traffic problems.

John Alschuler, Beckham's New York-based real estate adviser, said they wanted to get the plans out there so that people could discuss the pros and cons.

"We think it is time to share our vision," Alschuler told the Miami Herald. "Let's have a full, vigorous public debate about it.

"We feel a stadium downtown can be a key contributor to the revival of a great city. David loves what it is becoming, and much of that energy is downtown."

Alschuler said the matches would be played at night which wouldn't conflict with the cruise ships coming and going.

Beckham's investor group has other sites in mind if the waterfront one fails, including one near the Miami International Airport and another at Florida International University.

The open-air stadium would be built in an area known as PortMiami, which hosts the world's busiest cruise ship terminal. Long-term plans for the island port have never included the possibility of being home to a sports arena, port officials have said.

(China Daily 03/26/2014 page23)