- Associated Press - Thursday, May 22, 2014

MIAMI (AP) - David Beckham’s team unveiled new designs for a downtown Miami Major League Soccer stadium Thursday after their initial proposal was scratched by local officials.

The new renderings call for filling in an unused boat slip and using an empty lot near the AmericanAirlines Arena where the Miami Heat play.

Beckham’s real estate adviser, John Alschuler, and fellow investor and businessman Marcelo Claure said the proposal would provide four additional acres of parking space and create a seamless waterfront walkway in downtown Miami connecting the stadium to nearby museums, restaurants and green spaces.

“We are confident as ever that downtown Miami and Major League Soccer are a perfect match,” Claure said.

The group initially had its sights set on building a stadium on one of the last parcels of available land at PortMiami. The site offered sweeping views of downtown Miami, but a coalition of politicians and business leaders, led by Royal Caribbean Cruises, argued a stadium would interfere with operations at the port.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez suggested the group consider the deep water Florida East Coast railway slip in Biscayne Bay. Beckham’s team said it has spent the last two weeks analyzing the site, and on Monday, after discussions with local officials, announced it was shifting focus to the new location.

On Tuesday, county commissioners officially nixed the PortMiami site, voting overwhelmingly against building a stadium there.

In order to build at the downtown slip site, the Beckham group must still obtain environmental permits, county and city approvals and pass a referendum it plans to pitch to voters for approval in November.

Already the site plan has encountered some resistance from the Tropical Audubon Society, which was present at Thursday’s presentation and opposes the plan. The society says filling in the slip would eliminate a portion of the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves, one of 41 protected coastal areas in the state.

“A soccer stadium is clearly not a water dependent use worthy of destroying more acreage of a state aquatic preserve,” the group’s executive director wrote in a letter to the county mayor.

Alschuler said the water in the slip does not circulate and is brackish.

“We’re very confident the environmental approvals will be forthcoming,” he said.

He declined to say whether Miami Beckham United would consider other sites in the city if the latest proposal were to fall though. Claure, however, was less discrete.

“No stadium downtown, no team in Miami,” he said.


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