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Miami Herald on push for building soccer stadium:

OK, showtime’s over, the klieg lights have gone dark, the curtain’s come down, the warm handshakes have cooled and the buff guy with the skinny tie is outta here.

It’s official: Soccer legend David Beckham is bringing a Major League Soccer expansion team to Miami - if …

And that if is a big one. All that Mr. Beckham and his investors need is a stadium somewhere in greater Miami. It’s that simple. Now that all the hoopla surrounding Mr. Beckham’s presence has gone quiet, the hard part looms. The franchise needs to find a stadium location, and if it is publicly owned property, city of Miami and Miami-Dade County leaders must ensure that they have the taxpayers’ back. A lot of residents think that they’ve been stabbed in it before. And they’re right.

But so far, so good. Mr. Beckham has assured elected officials and taxpayers that he is not asking the public to pay for a stadium. “We don’t want public funding,” he said last week at a reception/cheerleading rally at the Perez Art Museum Miami. “We will fund the stadium ourselves.”

Music to our ears, so far.

Beckman must have Googled “Marlins Stadium” and “Mayor Carlos Alvarez” and “Oops!” If he did, he learned that Miami-Dade residents’ tolerance for publicly funded stadiums is probably at an all-time low.

They have been down this road before, and have been left holding the bag.

Soccer is extremely popular in South Florida. In August 2011, the game in which Chivas of Guadalajara beat FC Barcelona - 4-1 - drew more than 70,000 people to Sun Life Stadium, a record-setting crowd for a match in Florida.

So far, there are six locations that could be in play as the new stadium site. Each one has advantages and drawbacks.

Clearly, there’s a long road ahead. With the Marlins, elected leaders acted out of fear. With soccer, they can’t be blinded by the dazzle. It’s time for them to just be cautious, questioning and smart.



Feb. 8

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