David Beckham’s American dream under threat

The footballing icon’s proposal to have a stadium built in Miami for his MLS club is met with stern opposition.

David Beckham has a long-term vision to cement his place in American ‘soccer’.

Having given a strong display of himself as a player at Los Angeles Galaxy and established a good rapport with the American public, aided by his celebrity status, the former England international is now on a quest to create a football franchise across the pond.

Back in February, the 38-year-old officially announced that he will buy a Major League Soccer franchise in Miami, revelling in “an exciting time” for himself and “looking forward” to making it a soccer city.

First, of course, he would need a stadium for his team to play, and for that he chose a waterfront site. Last month the former Manchester United and Real Madrid winger unveiled a blueprint for a 25,000-seat waterfront stadium, which would cost an estimated $200 million (£120m). It would be built on 36 acres of land and include shops, hotels and offices, and would be connected to the mainland by a bridge.

It is a massive project but one that Beckham genuinely believes in. However, the Englishman is now facing stern opposition from some of the wealthiest people in the city.

An alliance of shipping interests and a billionaire car dealer have reportedly joined forces to oppose the plans of building a stadium on the port. They argue that it is a threat to Miami’s plans to capitalise on the expansion of the Panama Canal and will see a number of people lose jobs.

So strong are the views of the group, led by John Fox, the former head of governmental affairs at Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and well-known car dealer and former Philadelphia Eagles owner Norman Braman, that they bought a full-page ad on the Miami Herald and its sister Spanish-language paper, El Nuevo Herald.

'We cannot jeopardise well-paying jobs, like crane operators, longshore workers, and mechanics, for low-paying stadium jobs, such as concession sales', read the ad, which cost almost $25,000 (£15,000)

However, Beckham’s representatives have come out and dismissed all the concerns.

'The plan doesn't interfere with port operations', said Neisen Kasdin, an attorney for Akerman Senterfitt and adviser for the Beckham group. 'It will likely generate more revenue for the port in the shorter term than other concepts that have been discussed'.

Braman is a strong man when it comes to opposing plans to build stadiums in Miami. In 2009, he spent more than $1m in 2009 to fight a Miami Marlins' campaign to secure more than $600m (£360m) in public funding for a new baseball stadium.

Then only last year, he was against Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross’ plans to garner $200m (£120m) in public funds to renovate their Sun Life Stadium.

Beckham has a fight on his hands to realise his American dream, and this time he will have to play it out off the pitch.

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