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Beckham Takes Aim At Public Golf Course As Site Of New Stadium, Some Work To Block The Move

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – For more than 4 1/2 years David Beckham has seen site after site turned down for his pro soccer stadium.

Business interests, politics and property owners squelched a waterfront stadium at the port, another location on the bay, and one next to Marlins Park.

Beckham partner Jorge Mas threw a yellow flag on a location in Overtown.

Now the Beckham group is swinging for the Melreese golf course, the only course in Miami, and owned by the city.

It would see a 28,000 seat stadium go up, underground parking, a hotel, and a development of office buildings.

Golf would go away.

"No, no, no, no, no. No soccer. Put it someplace else," golfer Tom Zelenek said at the Melreese course Thursday.

Golfers are universally teed off at the Beckham proposal that would see the soccer group pay $3.5 million a year to lease the city land.

"They'll probably make a lot more money with the soccer stadium and a hotel and what not, but as a golfer, I'm not a fan of it. I hate building anywhere, especially on any green space," said golfer John Stewart.

Supporters of the Beckham plan, including Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, argue that the project would include a more than 50-acre park, open and free to everyone, unlike golf.

Golfer - and voter - Joel Garcia-Lee spoke out against the stadium proposal Thursday.  The deal would have to be approved by voters in November.

"It would just be a waste of money and time. And then you are just taking away a safe haven from all these kids," Garcia-Lee said.

He was talking about the thousands of kids who learn and play golf at Melreese every year, 75% of them at no charge.

Carlos Velez went through the program as a youngster and is now a PGA-certified instructor.

"I wouldn't be standing here as a golf pro, I wouldn't be able to have the job I have here at the club but for the start I was given here. I wouldn't be able to touch all these kids' lives that I touch every day," Velez said.

Pro golfer Eric Compton, who frequents the Melreese course when he's not out on the tour, put out a tweet to his more than 37,000 followers.

"Help protect this beautiful green space, this public golf course, home to amazing youth programs!" Compton's post said in part.

The green space and youth programs would make way for pro soccer if things bend Beckham's way.

Beckham's group and their supporters say lots of kids would play soccer on the practice fields he hopes to build on the Melreese site.

Beckham will be in Miami next Thursday when the plan is presented to city commissioners who must approve it going on the November ballot.


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