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Clock Ticking As Beckham Soccer Group Considers Stadium Sites

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) - When soccer superstar David Beckham announced nearly five years ago he would bring soccer to Miami, he made it clear he wanted the team to play in Miami.

But proposed site after site has fallen through and now Beckham's group is exploring building a stadium outside of the Magic City.

When Beckham was officially granted a soccer team in January, plans to build a stadium on a mostly county-owned plot in Overtown immediately were shot down. Never mind residents were threatening a lawsuit, Jorge and Jose Mas, Beckham's new, big gun Miami partners, made it clear they didn't like the Overtown site; no parking, no easy access, no space for a training facility.

Beckham's group and Miami then started talking about downsizing the city-owned Melreese Golf Course by the airport and Dolphin Expressway and building a stadium there. But golfers teed off against it and one city commissioner quickly opposed building on the greens.

"It's a green space. We need to maintain green space," Commissioner Willy Gort told CBS4 News on Thursday. "It's a very popular golf course and brings benefit and recognition to the City of Miami."

With opposition calling the golf course out of bounds, The Miami Herald reports Beckham's team and Miami are talking about possibly building a stadium on what is now a garbage truck depot on city property near Jackson Hospital at Northwest 20th Street and 12th Avenue. There's plenty of room and it's right next to a Metrorail line.

Also being considered, according to the Herald, is the landmark Hialeah Park. With no more horse racing at the historic facility, there's ample space for a stadium, parking, and it's also next to a Metrorail station.

Another site on the list, outside of Miami, what is now a sprawling Pepsi distribution center right off the Palmetto Expressway near 36th Street in Doral.

Miami's Mayor Francis Suarez would be disappointed if Beckham's team picks a location outside of the city. Beckham had insisted from the start he wanted the team to play in Miami.

"We certainly know the team will be the 'Miami whatever it is,' but we'd love for them to be in the City of Miami," Suarez told CBS4 Thursday.

In any event, the clock is running. A stadium on the city's golf course or the city's garbage truck compound would require a vote of the people. That would have to be prepared for an August ballot by mid-summer and there's no guarantee it would pass.

Negotiations to purchase a private site and getting the necessary permits can be complex and time-consuming. There is also Major League Soccer to consider. As much as MLS covets a franchise with David Beckham's name on it, there are limits to the League's patience. Beckham has said he intends to start playing in a temporary location in 2020 and be in a new stadium in 2021.

Jorge Mas, the major player behind Beckham's wealthy Miami partners, did not return a call for comment from CBS4.


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