Some officials balk at Beckham's plan to uproot golf course for soccer stadium

Miami city manager says deal makes financial sense for residents

By Glenna Milberg - Reporter

MIAMI - David Beckham and his business partners' latest plan to transform Miami's Melreese Country Club into a Major League Soccer stadium complex is dividing city officials.

Miami team owner Jorge Mas tweeted a preview of the complex Sunday. The project would create open park space and add business and hotel space. He called it a win-win.

"It made sense on a business level, and it makes sense on a cultural level," Miami City Manager Emilio Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said the golf course had been underperforming for more than a decade.

"All I can say is we're going to go from a business deal we have right now on prime real estate that pretty much makes the city zero -- to an offer by serious international investors that will generate somewhere in the neighborhood of $44 million in tax revenue," Gonzalez said. "(It will) provide thousands and thousands of jobs and give residents a true green space that they all need and can all use."

But first, the plan has to clear a hurdle: a city commission vote Thursday that will determine whether city voters can decide if the project moves forward.

Commissioner Willie Gort will be one "no." 

"We're responsive to the people that got us in power, and constituents don't want to see this," Gort said. "I have a lot of signatures and a lot of phone calls. They like the way it is."

The opposition has a petition promoted by former Mayor Manny Diaz, who in his tenure championed the now-loathed Marlins Park deal.

Gonzalez calls the soccer plan just the opposite.

"I think we all collectively know that we have our homework to do," Gonzalez said. "We have to make sure our residents are taken care of."

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