David Beckham's ownership group confirmed on Friday that his team of investors has acquired a site for a Major League Soccer stadium in Overtown, northwest of downtown Miami.
Sources told the Miami Herald that Beckham's group plans to own the real estate and stadium itself, dropping past efforts for a government-owned stadium that would be shielded from property taxes.
Last month, the group had announced that they were negotiating with the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County to acquire a plot of land adjacent to Marlins Park whose ownership was to have been transferred to the Miami-Dade School Board in order to avoid paying property taxes.
The team announced the deal on Friday. League owners are due to hear a report from Beckham's ownership group when they meet in Columbus, Ohio, this weekend ahead of Sunday's MLS Cup final.
The team said last month that they were anxious to go into Saturday's meeting with a site already determined, and had advised that they were having trouble acquiring private property needed to build a stadium across from Marlins Park. That Little Havana site was the team's third choice, according to the newspaper report, making the Overtown land a fourth option.
On Thursday, MLS commissioner Don Garber told reporters he was frustrated by the challenges Beckham's ownership group is facing over the stadium venue.
"We have a true belief in that city as representing an important strategic market for us," he said. "We believe in the [Miami] market. If we can't get it right, we move on. It's conceivable Sacramento could be higher on our expansion priority list. We will make the decision on Miami in due time."
According to the report, most of the site along Northwest Seventh Avenue is a vacant four-acre private lot owned by Windsor Investment Holdings just across the street from the historic neighborhood known as Spring Garden. Across Northwest Seventh Street, the Beckham group also plans to secure county land that's owned by the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department. The team has informed Miami's administration that it wants to close off Seventh Street.
"Miami Beckham United has secured a stadium development site at 650 Northwest 8th Street in the City of Miami's historic Overtown neighborhood," the team said in a statement. "We intend to create an assemblage of private and County-controlled land totaling approximately 9 acres in Miami's urban core, within walking distance of multiple public transit options and the up-and-coming Miami River District. The private properties, which comprise the majority of the land, are under contract and we intend to purchase the County land at fair market value pending approval of our site by the MLS Board of Governors.
"Construction of our venue will be privately financed and we will work with Miami-Dade County Public Schools to establish our club as an educational resource for the community. We will also engage nearby businesses and residents as we develop our stadium design and take steps to enhance the neighborhood."