By RYAN TOLMICH
The first opposition David Beckham’s Miami MLS team faces may not be a fellow MLS side like the Chicago Fire or the Portland Timbers. Rather, it appears as if the expansion team’s first matchup will come with opposition of a different nature: a cruise line.
John Fox, former Vice President of Royal Caribbean Cruises and currently of the Miami Seaport Alliance, appeared on a Miami talk show alongside John Alschuler, real estate advisor to David Beckham, to discuss the proposed PortMiami stadium deal.
The two debated and dissected the potential privately funded stadium, with Fox citing the fact that he supported soccer in Miami, but not at the location due to shipping and cargo needs.
However, Alschuler pointed out that Royal Caribbean’s current “sweetheart deal” for the site came in well below market value, which is something the ownership group is willing to pay.
“Carnival pays market rate. Norwegian pays market rate,” said Alschuler to describe the $3 million per year expected to be charged for the property. “We will pay rent — unlike Royal Caribbean, we will pay market rent.”
Fox questioned the stadium’s usefulness, citing that it would only be used 24-to-25 days a year, while also calling Royal Caribbean the “biggest developer” of the area. Meanwhile, Alschuler described the vision for a commercial development in the area, which would see cruise passenger traffic unaffected by both Miami soccer games and Miami Heat basketball games.
“We need a site that can communicate to the whole world the beauty of Miami, the excitement of Miami. It needs to be downtown. It needs to be near the water,” Alschuler said. “And we’re open to any alternative that can move this community in the 21st century.”
“If you think you can come down here from New York,” said Fox in response, “and tell this community after 125 years that Beckham is going to help us go into the 21st century — I think that’s a little bit insulting.”
With both sides set to do battle over the proposed location, it appears that Miami soccer’s biggest test will come off-the-field before they can get onto a field of their own.
Do you think Beckham and his group will get their deal? What do you think of the stadium plan?
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