Opposition to Soccer Arena at the Port of Miami

Last Monday, shipping interests, in collaboration with a billionaire car dealer, published a newspaper advertisement in protest of David Beckham’s plan for a 25,000-seat waterfront soccer arena at the Port of Miami, insisting that such a development would jeopardize city plans to take advantage of the Panama Canal expansion.

A quote from the ad, published in the Miami Herald, reads, “We cannot jeopardize well-paying jobs, like crane operators, longshore workers, and mechanics, for low-paying stadium jobs, such as concession sales,”

The group of shipping interests is led by John Fox, who was previously the head of governmental affairs for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. The group also includes chapters of the International Longshoremen’s Association and car dealer, Norman Braman, who also owned the Philadelphia Eagles for a time.

Development costs for the arena would run upwards of $200 million, and would also include hotels, offices, and shops. The Port of Miami’s master plan incorporates development of over seven million square feet of hotel, convention, and office space on that same site.

An attorney for the Beckham Group voiced a much different opinion, stating, “The plan doesn’t interfere with port operations,” said Neisen Kasdin. “It will likely generate more revenue for the port in the shorter term than other concepts that have been discussed.”

However, the ever-growing group of opponents says that the arena would threaten the city of Miami’s desire to become a top choice for global shippers who want to distribute their goods to the U.S. market. Miami officials think that the close proximity of the port to the Panama Canal and the $2 billion in infrastructure upgrades, will further increase its desirability.

In 2009, Norman Braman spent over a million dollars fighting a campaign to secure over $600 million in public funding for a new Miami Marlins stadium, and in 2013, he opposed Miami Dolphins owner, Stephen Ross’s attempt to secure $200 million for repairs to that team’s arena.

Said Braman, “There are plenty of other places for the stadium to be.”

So far, no one will say who placed the advertisements in the paper – though they are said to have cost $25,000.