BRADENTON, Fla. — Miami-Dade County agreed to help former soccer star David Beckham and his investors search for a stadium location, boosting the likelihood that Florida will get its second Major League Soccer franchise.
County commissioners unanimously agreed Dec. 17 to have Mayor Carlos Gimenez and his staff identify locations in or near downtown Miami for development of a soccer stadium.
Commissioners, however, said no county tax revenue would be contributed toward the construction of a facility, and if a county-owned site is selected the team will pay rent for use of the property. They did not address whether the county would serve as a conduit for financing the stadium.
Gimenez will prepare a feasibility report on the site search and negotiations with the team.
Property owned by PortMiami has already been suggested for the new stadium. The port has long-term plans to develop the land with a mixed-use commercial and residential project.
Several commissioners spoke against using port property, and said a soccer stadium would not be a compatible use.
Gimenez said the vote and the county's help in finding the location for a new stadium would send a strong message to MLS, which has already said Miami is a strong contender for one of four expansion franchises.
Beckham, a popular professional soccer player who retired in May, plans to exercise a $25 million option in his MLS contract to start a new franchise.
In November, MLS named Orlando City Soccer Club as the league's 21st franchise.
Less than a month before the MLS announcement, the city of Orlando voted to assist the local club with financing the construction of an $85 million soccer-specific stadium.
The city will contribute $20 million in tourist tax revenues obtained through an interlocal agreement with Orange County. The tourist taxes will back subordinate bonds that may be sold as early as the first quarter of next year.
Orlando is also paying another $15 million for the soccer stadium land and nearby Seminole County contributed $2 million.
In an attempt to focus expansion efforts in the Southeast, MLS is also in talks with Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank about sponsoring a franchise.