MIAMI (AP) – David Beckham's architects and advisers have recommended the Port of Miami as the stadium site for the Major League Soccer expansion team that will be owned by the former English national team captain.
The plan announced Monday would have an open-air stadium with views of the bay and the downtown skyline. The capacity could be as low as 21,000 or as high as 35,000. The operating premise is about 25,000.
"Miami is all about the water, all about the culture," said Beckham, speaking from a rooftop terrace on the Wolfson Campus of Miami Dade College, located just a few blocks from the Port of Miami. "I don't think people see that enough.
"Our site is all about the skyline. It opens up to that. And that's what we want people to see that all around the world."
More than 30 sites were evaluated for the stadium. In addition to the recommended site, Marlins Park, Florida International University and a site near the city's airport remain under consideration for the team.
There is no year set for the team to start play.
John Alschuler, chairman of the consulting firm HR&A, said the earliest the new stadium could be ready was 2018. If the team starts play earlier, it would have to play in a temporary home, such as Marlins Park or FIU.
Alschuler said a stadium at the Port of Miami would be built without the use of taxpayer money and that fans could drive there by using the Port of Miami tunnel and seeking limited parking spaces.
However, Beckham said he was headed to Tallahassee on Tuesday to lobby the state legislature for money.
"We will be funding the money ourselves, but as an organization, we want to be treated like every other (sports franchise)," Beckham said. "We're not asking for anything more or anything less."
Beckham was asked if he could make it work without state funding.
"I don't think it would be fair to say we could or couldn't," he said. "We just want to be treated like every other franchise. It's not an ideal world, but this is what we would like to have happen."
Beckham's group envisions perhaps as many as 4,000 fans per game making a "seven- or eight- minute walk" across the bridge from where the Miami Heat plays its NBA home games at AmericanAirlines Arena.
"The March to the Match' is a soccer tradition common in Europe and in certain parts of the United States," Alschuler said. "They hang out in bars and march to the match."
To ease traffic and parking concerns, the proposed MLS team has said it would not schedule home games on the same nights the Heat plays.
Beckham said he has never played in a stadium that doesn't have traffic issues and views that as a good problem because it would mean, in his view, that the team is playing to a "full house."
Alschuler said Beckham's group would pay "fair market" value for the land at the proposed site and would make a $200 million investment in creating jobs and economic activity downtown.
"We want a site that can feed off of the incredible energy that is developing downtown. We believe we can contribute to that," Alschuler said. "We want to be the most significant asset we can be to the economy of South Florida create jobs, create tax revenue and contribute to the economic balance sheet of the Port of Miami."