By Zachary Fagenson
MIAMI (Reuters) – A group led by English soccer star David Beckham unveiled plans on Monday to build a 25,000-seat soccer stadium on Miami’s waterfront for the Major League Soccer team he will own, but the proposal is already facing some opposition.
The open-air stadium would be built in an area known as PortMiami, which hosts the world’s busiest cruise ship terminal. Long-term plans for the island port have never included the possibility of being home to a sports arena, port officials have said.
PortMiami Director Bill Johnson declined to comment on the stadium proposal.
“The important part for us is getting everybody on side, getting everybody to realize why we want to bring the team here, and why we want to have the stadium in a certain place,” Beckham told reporters in Miami.
Royal Caribbean Cruises, whose headquarters are located at the port, has expressed concern about the proposed stadium, citing traffic concerns and its own plans to develop the land the Beckham group hopes to lease for the stadium.
“We have shared our serious reservations about the suitability of PortMiami as a location for a stadium,” Cynthia Martinez, Royal Caribbean’s director for global corporate communications, wrote in an e-mail on Monday.
Development of the 36-acre (14.5 hectare) stadium site would cost about $200 million and include shops, hotels and offices connected to the mainland by a pedestrian bridge, according to John Alschuler, Beckham’s New York-based real-estate adviser.
Beckham’s group is not looking for public financing, but must negotiate site plans with Miami-Dade County.
“The funding is in place,” Alschuler told reporters. “The goal is to have a team playing by 2016.”
Since Beckham signaled interest in establishing a Major League Soccer team in Miami, the league has stressed the importance of having a final stadium deal, along with a business plan, before it will approve a new team.
The former Manchester United and Real Madrid star retired as a player last May with a $25 million option in his MLS contract to start a new franchise.
Beckham in February finalized an ownership group with American Idol creator Simon Fuller and Bolivian-born billionaire Marcelo Claure, founder of Miami-based Brightstar Corp, the world’s largest wireless distributor and the provider of global services to Apple Inc.
(Editing by Kevin Gray and Tom Brown)