With word that soccer superstar David Beckham is headed for Miami Monday, negotiations officially got underway between his company, in the running for a new Major League Soccer team, and Miami-Dade County to find a suitable location for a South Florida stadium.
"It's as fast as possible," said John Alschuler, one of the representatives at a closed-door meeting Tuesday afternoon at County Hall.
Four representatives of Miami Beckham United met with Miami-Dade Deputy Mayor Chip Iglesias and staff for the first negotiating session with a goal of whittling some 30 possible sites to five or fewer.
Team Beckham's preferred site is a county parcel on the southwest corner of PortMiami. Several Miami-Dade commissioners have expressed concerns about that site; others, a preference for a site more central or west in the county.
"I think it's premature to speculate on location right now. The commission asked us to look at a range of locations and we are reviewing a range of locations and we'll set priorities in a mutual way at a later time," said Alschuler.
In a unanimous vote last month, county commissioners paved the way for Mayor Carlos Gimenez to begin negotiations with Miami Beckham United to choose a county-owned site for a new stadium, most insisting it be built with no public funding. Documents included in the resolution indicate the team would pay rent to the county, but does not say how much.
The team has said an urban setting is a priority, and indicates private land parcels are also under consideration.
Though the negotiations have no stated timeline, Miami Beckham United reps are pushing to work as fast as possible. Two weeks ago, MLS commissioner Don Garber indicated an announcement on expanding MLS to Miami would come by early February.