BRADENTON, Fla. - Miami City Commissioners plan to consider a city owned site for a Major League Soccer expansion team backed by former soccer star David Beckham.
Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution Thursday agreeing to consider the proposed stadium location adjacent to the bond-financed Marlins baseball stadium in Little Havana near downtown Miami.
The resolution allows Beckham's investor group to meet with MLS executives in New York next week to discuss finalizing Beckham's option for an expansion club in Miami, Mayor Tomas Regalado told the board.
The resolution was prepared based on a letter Miami Beckham United LLC sent to the city on Wednesday expressing formal interest in building a soccer-specific stadium next to Marlins Park, on the site of the former Orange Bowl football stadium.
Until now, the site had been considered tainted due to the lingering controversy over public funds Miami-Dade County used to finance a $500 million Major League Baseball stadium for the Marlins.
Commissioner Frank Carollo, whose district includes Little Havana, was not happy about passing the resolution after seeing media reports before Thursday's meeting that showed residents expressing concern about the future of their homes and businesses.
People who live and do business in Little Havana had been left out of the discussion, Carollo said.
Regalado said it was too soon to know specifics about the project without a site plan and the property it would affect.
"I just want to make clear that [today's] conversation should not be about the city displacing people because we don't know," Regalado said. "It shouldn't be about who's going to own the stadium and what's going happen because we don't know."
Regalado told commissioners that he and city manager Daniel Alfonso met with Beckham's group July 17 only to discuss the city's interest in considering the site, and to make it clear that no public funds would be invested in purchasing additional land, if needed, or to build the stadium.
No one from Beckham's group addressed the commission Thursday.
"What I'm concerned about is those who haven't had a voice," Carollo said. "I want to go on record and say we won't do eminent domain."
Commissioners amended the resolution and said they would not support using eminent domain to acquire property for the MLS stadium. They also said that residents and property owners must be informed about the project as it proceeds, and that commissioners must be updated regularly about negotiations over the site development.
Negotiations will also include the involvement of Miami-Dade County, which owns Marlins Park and operates local mass transit systems.
The Beckham group has searched for a site in Miami since late 2013, and initially wanted a stadium located on the waterfront near Port Miami. That site was ultimately nixed due to its potential future use by the port.