Sunday, May 25, 2014

Beckham Stadium on Biscayne (filling in the slip). By Geniusofdespair


 A Chevy for a Cadillac? A People’s Club?

The Urban Environment League Condemns the Soccer Stadium/Wall Against the Waterfront in Downtown Miami --A Resolution by the UEL’s Board of Directors

Contact: Gregory Bush, Vice President: 305-926-5001;

While explaining why the plan for the new soccer stadium in Miami’s FEC slip (and Bicentennial Park) was so valuable for residents, David Beckham’s adviser David Altschuler recently said that trading a Chevy for a Cadillac should be a “pretty fair transaction.” His comment underscores a fundamentally elitist misunderstanding of the needs of our community under the mantle of attracting a major league soccer team to Miami. Such a notion of status is not the central issue to define this issue, nor is Michael Putney’s recent assertion that soccer legend David Beckham strikes him as a “regular guy” as a rationalization for deference. The stadium - in the last open space in downtown Miami - is wrong because it insults any sense of smart urban design in contemporary times by deferring to a soccer legend as a front man for financial backers. How dumb can we be - again?

The UEL strongly condemns the action by City and County Mayors in strong-arming a hastily drawn plan to wall off more of our long forlorn downtown waterfront against residents in favor of a Major League Soccer stadium. While some of the arguments in favor of the stadium in the FEC slip strike us as old and tired, it is important that we remember what we have experienced – and forgotten - in the recent history of attempts by sports corporations to “take” our rare public waterfront through complex formulas that disguise the theft of public space for private interests. The UEL believes that the public is, finally, tired of these games and will show their anger to public officials over the coming months in a variety of ways.

One argument that the Beckham forces have used is that nothing has been happening in Bicentennial Park and Parcel B? It’s dead space. Altschuler notes: “There are no places for people to gather. There is no place to have an ice cream with your child. There is no place to have a glass of wine and enjoy the view. It is a skeleton park. Not a fully fleshed out, robust park." Well hello, we have been through that argument before. People do have memories. Public officials have failed to follow through in making the park a secure and attractive place.

In 2000, the argument against the Marlins was “Bums or Baseball” which was equally fallacious because over so many years- public waterfront parks have been set up for failure by conscious neglect by public officials.

Well why is that and what does it mean now? Parks need funding and long tem planning for security, maintenance and amenities. That has seldom happened in this city with any continuity.

Another argument advanced is that the new Beckham plan will provide more park land for the public? Those figures are fallacious. At least 2.7 acres were previously pledged to be parkland and never delivered after the 1996 referendum. Four acres will be taken away from Bicentennial Park for the stadium. Taxpayers have already paid millions to improve the “new found land” in the slip. The cost of each acre of land could be valued at $17 million or more if sold in the open market. What a gift to the rich!

It is clear is that urban density and traffic will become far more intense in an area of Miami that is so often gridlocked- even NOW. And there is no parking included in the hastily promoted design.

The stadium is projected to be 100 feet high and will clearly block views of the water, obscured by the deceptively alluring architectural renderings that have been so widely dispensed by the largely compliant press.

Ultimately, the UEL condemns the recurrent rapidity of decision making. Last minute deals, the deference paid by local officials to private sports entrepreneurs – just like 1996 - when today public assets (libraries, parks) so often go neglected.

After the 1996 referendum on the Arena, Parcel B (2.7 acre open space on the waterfront), a central element in selling the stadium to the public (according to the Heat’s own PR guru Michael Murphy (2004), was quickly changed by the county commission to allow various commercial interests. The public had been deceived.

Overall, the local press, with few exceptions, has been embarrassing and irresponsible in its fawning deference to this soccer star embracing Miami as his new town. We’ve heard that before.

Many questions need to be asked by the public in a more organized manner. The UEL demands a better public process – hopefully championed by local elected officials – so that what happened in relation to the Marlin’s attempt to get cheap waterfront land for their stadium will not be revisited. We should not be fooled again.

Miami faces another defining moment in its history. It not only relates to the stupidity of walling off our waterfront, the insane density being proposed, and endlessly rearranging what passes for public space today. It also concerns another example of a rushed deal- thrown at the public through a compliant press that echoes Beckham saying “take our demands and do it quickly or we wont play in your town.” Sounds like a spoiled child to us. Quality public government must rely on thoughtful and transparent planning processes. That’s central to this issue.

To conclude, the UEL calls for public officials to speak out for our public waterfront, not the quickly drawn scheme before us. We call for a variety of public protests, organization of effort by many groups, and we seek a better process to forge alternative modes of activating our waterfront and the connectivity needed for all our people. Stop this prvaization of public space.

We also need to remember that this struggle is not simply about the needs of any one group of real estate interests but, like other cities with vibrant waterfronts, it should involve the larger decision making process and the imperative need to enhance our public waterfront through coherent and transparent public planning.

(The UEL has been a leader in the fight for Parcel B, Virginia Key, the Miami Circle and other public and historic space grabs)


Anonymous said...

One may reasonable assume that an MLS soccer team and stadium, located in a relatively accessible site paid for by Beckham and his cronies, will attract large numbers of soccer affecionadoes. One can assume that as a "given".

So can the bantering and foolishness stop. Can Beckham and his well-heeled buddies buy vacant land for their stadium? The alternative reality is that the soccer stadium envisioned by the Beckham crew is to be multi-functional, and of course, gambling is the prime mover in that equation, particularly given Beckham's connection to Sheldon Adelson of Las Vegas fame!

Let's tell it like it is!

Ted Baker

Anonymous said...

Commissioner Zapata said during last September's budget process, that the BCC is at a disadvantage against the administration (Mayor's Office) because they hold all the cards That in this process, bad ideas have a good explanation, there's always a good explanation for bad ideas. Well, here's another bad idea, Mayor Carlos Gimenez supports and encourages commercial ventures that are callous in their lack of basic services to our residents. There are so many opportunities in this county to better what already exists. Instead Mayor Gimenez get us bogged down in ideas that require the destruction of new projects that were paid for with recently spent tax dollars. The bayfront park is just now being reopened to the public. It's similar to newly renovated libraries which were going to be thoughtlessly abandoned by the Mayor's budget "misstep." to keep in line with the "smaller government" sound bite. Well, I'm learning that "smaller government" means involvement in the massive business of stadiums. If Mayor Gimenez cannot master the budget process, and cannot successfully negotiate deals favoring residents - Commissioner Suarez wrote a scathing memo about the Mayor's Heat contract - this Mayor (who everyone says is "honest") is honestly inept.

Anonymous said...

If the stadium is built in the boat slip, where will Mickey Arison be able to park his yacht? I like being able to see a billionaire parked next to his basketball arena. This is uplifting for common people. If you work hard you can achieve your dream in America.

Anonymous said...

You mean if you are a foreign citizen, pay no US taxes, a negotiate deals w political crooks to put taxpayers on the hook for your stadium? Oh, that's not Beckham. My bad.

Anonymous said...

The stadium will need a roof, luxury boxes and additional seats after attendance figures don't meet estimates.

Anonymous said...

What about the fact that the mayor wants to cut the libraries another 20 million leaving a 48 branch system with nothing but 180 people to run it? A real world class city invests in their infrastructure before putting lipstick on its pig which in this case is this stadium.

Anonymous said...

A 100' wall blocking 2-3 blocks of Biscayne Blvd. Giving $500 mil worth of land to David Beckham and his foreign cronies? Wow. Marlins Scam Repeat. We are still paying $3 Billion for that debacle.

Anonymous said...

I have been critiqued for being too wordy so I will be as short as possible and then give you the long version.
1) Sydney Australia has a hundred times more park land on their waterfront than Miami and they are creating more green space by tearing down a convention center on their water, not covering and blocking it as a stadium would.
2) If slip is filled Miami looses over $750,000 a year in dockage fees they should be collecting from the boat slip.
3) Most great cities have parks far superior to Miami and I don't mean in just size. I mean quality and variety of plant material and maintenance. Is anyone beside me sick of just grass and trees?

These cities have leadership in both the private and public sectors who support their parks financially for the landscaping extras. Major firms who may not have offices in Miami need to be asked to support our parks as other cities do. Yes, they will get recognition on some small signage. We can start with our local cruise industry. Should they not be proud to contribute to a park for their customers and crews to enjoy?
4)The Miami community can do this ourselves. We need to stop looking at any one organization to save us from ourselves. We need to save ourselves. That is community.
5) And yes, Miami leaders need to follow our Parks Master Plan and Comprehensive Plan and stop trying to circumvent the Carollo Ordinance which is to preserve our public waterfront from non water dependent or water related uses. If our leaders can not do this then I am all for establishing a private trust for all our parks and getting our politicians out of the picture totally!

Steve Hagen 305 754 0099
More Parks For Miami NOW at

Below is the long version sent to the Herald....Read it here as the Herald is not likely to publish it.

In all the discussion about a soccer stadium on a place to dock boats lets remember the resident/taxpayers of Miami own this extremely valuable waterfront. The most valuable property in Florida if not the entire east coast of the US.

It is inconceivable that our leaders are considering placing such a large building on our waterfront as piecemeal as it is while progressive cities like Sydney plan on tearing down a convention hall on their harbor to create more green space while they already have a hundred, yes a hundred times more green space on their water than Miami. Beckham knows this.

If such a proposal were to be built, what would Miami residents get in return beside a couple of additional acres and landscaping of Parcel B which should have happened 14 years ago. It is appalling so many County Commissioners have ignored Parcel B!!!!

It is financial crime Miami has let the FEC slip sit for so many years with no revenue being collected by docking boats!!!

IF such a plan were to fly the City should get at least $800,000 a year for rent because that is the revenue they should be collecting to dock large boats in the slip. Any rent the City would collect should be dedicated to creating neighborhood parks as a goal of the Parks Master Plan.

Write for balance of this posting....

Anonymous said...

It is the last vestige of a WW2 base, if anyone gives a hoot. Why can't we have a memorial to the US NAVY since they were based THERE?

Anonymous said...

People in Miami have little or no respect for history. Time to protect Bicentennial Park. Vote No.