Miami is one step closer to receiving a Major League Soccer franchise after the Board of County Commissioners voted Tuesday to sell 2.8 acres of public land to a group led by David Beckham.
"I firmly believe that the sale of this property, as well as the subsequent soccer stadium, will leave a lasting positive impact on the community," Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said in a statement.
The deal is still awaiting the City of Miami's approval. The $9 million Beckham paid for the land will be provided to the Water Sewer Department, which previously owned it.
Along with a six-acre lot purchased by Miami Beckham United last year, the 25,000-seat stadium will stand on a total of nine acres nestled right up against the Miami River.
Now, the Beckham-led group will wait for Major League Soccer to award it a franchise, which it anticipates will happen within a few weeks. It then will focus on the zoning process, which could take as long as a year.
The group’s goal is to have its first game at the Overtown-based stadium in 2020. It would be the first South Florida-based MLS franchise since MLS contracted the Miami Fusion in 2001.
The company representing Beckham will use private money to build the proposed stadium and will add at least 50 permanent jobs, Gimenez said.
"Miami already has championship-winning teams, such as the Miami Heat, Miami Dolphins and Miami Marlins," Gimenez said. "We look forward to one day soon adding our future MLS franchise to the list."
About a dozen people who live near the site complained to commissioners Tuesday that the noise and congestion the stadium would bring should stop the sale.
"It doesn't belong here, it belongs in Doral, or by Dolphin Mall where most soccer fans are in a wide space where you can build the community around the soccer stadium not put it in the middle of a neighborhood," resident Daeja Odonoghue said.
Miami Beckham United said they're aware people are wary, especially after the recent Marlins Park deal.
"Part of that is born from the last sports stadium deal and we inherit the riptides of that deal and the riptides are high," MBU's Tim Leiweke said. "We are not here to take money from the county or the city, we will pay for this project ourselves privately, we will pay property taxes and be good neighbors."