Commissioner proposes putting soccer stadium at site near MIA

Finding the right stadium location for a new MLS soccer team in Miami got a new proposal from a second Kendall area commissioner during the holidays.

Miami-Dade District 7 Commissioner Xavier L. Suarez proposed building a stadium near public transportation on 8.5 acres of county-owned property adjacent to Miami International Airport’s Intermodal Center.

Suarez wrote a special memo to fellow commissioners expressing his idea while noting that a current plan to locate a new stadium at the southwest corner of PortMiami had drawn criticisms for lack of security.

Miami-Dade District 11 Commissioner Juan C. Zapata earlier proposed to Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez that 160 acres of county property off SW 157th Avenue be considered as a stadium site for soccer star David Beckham’s proposed MLS franchise.

In making out a case for a stadium immediately east of the Intermodal Center, Suarez said the smaller acreage still has nearly enough room for a stadium abutting NW 37th Avenue where real estate currently commands about $20 per square foot or about $900,000 per acre.

“Four or five acres cost no more than $4 million and if all or part of the seven blocks of 37th Avenue is closed, that adds as much as three acres to the site.

“Superficially, this to me seems like a much better site than the Port of Miami and it is mostly government- owned land (and) quite close to being the very center of the urban core…reachable by both mass transit and important highways and arteries.”

Suarez noted that his staff already has explored sites in the vicinity of the Performing Arts Center and, with FPL officials, the power company’s existing substation west of the Miami Riverside Center, which for cost and time constraints he termed “a long shot.”

As another alternative, Suarez thought it made sense to view Marlins Park as a potential area for an adjacent stadium as a twin facility “which could at least share some of the parking and be the site of major worldwide competitions, such as the World Cup and other multi-sport events.”

Suarez said his suggestions came about because “it is important to not concentrate the debate on the Port of Miami site which, quite frankly, is not being received well by most people with whom I’ve discussed it.”

Acknowledging the commissioner’s suggestion, bank executive Kasdin Neisen, co-representing Beckham’s interest in a site location, said the group was continuing to contemplate sites “in or near downtown Miami…adjacent to mass transit.”

Miami-Dade District 5 Commissioner Bruno A. Barreiro’s final resolution, passed by a 13-0 vote of commissioners on Dec. 17, asked Mayor Gimenez to consider both economics and traffic patterns in an analysis of sites without a specific location cited.

The West Kendall vacant land between SW 112th and SW 120th streets south of The Hammocks long has been designated for Miami-Dade’s next major district park but bond funding for capital improvements continues to lack prioritization in a current five-year program.

A spokesperson for Zapata said a West Kendall stadium could be included as a part of a planned soccer complex in vacant fields north of an extension of SW 120th Street built as an access road to begin park infrastructure.

Also in the running: FIU’s football stadium which FIU athletic director Pete Garcia extolled for its central location and easy access to “soccer-crazed pockets” in West Dade, Kendall, Doral and Homestead.

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