David Beckham brings MLS back to Miami but not all residents are convinced

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Not everyone is Miami is convinced by Beckham's MLS franchise.

David Beckham has finally achieved his goal of bringing Major League Soccer to Miami, but the prospect of a stadium without parking that drives up housing costs in a low-income neighborhood is no hit with residents.

The former England captain and glitzy star of storied Champions League teams was formally awarded an MLS franchise on Monday, but key details remain up in the air, such as its name and logo and when it will debut.

For the 25,000-stadium, the investor group led by Beckham has acquired land in an area called Overtown, a working class district between downtown and Little Havana.

They still need to buy one more piece of land, but for now the deal is held up in court by a lawsuit. The investors are confident they will prevail.

“Our 24th team now is in Miami. The stadium is in the Overtown site,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said.

One problem is that Miami is already choked with traffic and the stadium will not have its own parking lots.

And people in the neighborhood fear housing costs that are already rising will force them to move away as they keep going up.

“We are largely overwhelmed by the larger forces in the community that are out there. Our voices are not being heard sufficiently,” said Ernest Martin, a member of the Miami River Commission, an association of people living near the waterway.

Martin was especially critical of the lack of parking.

But Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said Monday that although the stadium itself will have no on-site parking, there are plenty of big lots two to three blocks from the planned arena.

He also pointed to public transport, but people in Miami love their cars.

The problem of rising housing costs comes with gentrification. Overtown is a black-majority neighborhood of some 13,000 people, and 24 percent of the residents earn less than $10,000 a year, well below the poverty level.

The Overtown neighbourhood in Miami.

The Overtown neighbourhood in Miami.

“This has been a low-income housing area for many years,” Martin told AFP at his home along the river.

“Ultimately the big increase in rent for the area will cause Overtown to become a more select area for residential users,” he added.

The barren lot of land where the stadium is supposed to go up is surrounded by a fence on which neighbors have hung a sign that reads, “No to the stadium.”

Nearby are modest apartment buildings and a few shops. At a corner liquor store, the cashier tends to customers from behind bullet proof glass. The storefront is protected by iron bars.

Douglas Romero, a 27-year-old resident of Overtown, told AFP that this year his rent has already gone from $1,050 a month to $1,200.

“I’m a little worried, you know,” Romero said, holding his four year old son.

“The prices of rent have been going up lately, starting in January. The only thing would be, if prices go up, you know, everybody looks to move. Everybody looks for somewhere else.”

It isn’t even the city’s first tryst with MLS.

Its first team, Miami Fusion, made their debut in 1998 but only played for four seasons before being cut from the league after the 2001 campaign amid low ticket sales and the lowest revenues of any team in the competition.

Football in America is nowhere near as popular as baseball, basketball or American football. But Beckham and his fellow investors are counting on the cultural diversity of Miami – with its large Hispanic and Caribbean populations – to attract fans.

The words 'No Stadium' spelled out on the surrounding fence.

The words ‘No Stadium’ spelled out on the surrounding fence.

And not all in the neighborhood are against the newcomers: “Him bringing the stadium here… it’s wonderful,” said Cedric Dixon, 52. “It’s excitement. It’s changing Miami.”

Landscaper Williams Charlie is meanwhile skeptical that the new stadium can bring jobs, but says “we need a soccer team” nonetheless.

“Beckham knows what he’s doing. I’ll go right to the game – if they don’t move us out.”

One sign of how deeply opposed some are is the emergence of a Facebook group against the stadium which publishes scary videos of football-related violence as a way of warning against the dangers of hooligans.

“It’s not a done deal!” is the slogan of the Overtown Spring Garden Community Collective.

This is true: the proposed sale of the last piece of land needed is being held up by a millionaire named Bruce Matheson, who argues that the county had no right to cede the first lot without opening it up to bidding.

He lost his first battle in court but has lodged an appeal.

Mayor Gimenez meanwhile remains bullish. “We are very confident that we are going to win the lawsuit,” he told reporters.

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David Beckham granted MLS franchise in Miami

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David Beckham’s long wait for a Major League soccer franchise in Miami is over.

MLS commissioner Don Garber announced on Monday that Miami would become the league’s 24th city, awarding the franchise to a group headed by Beckham, but also including his manager Simon Fuller and businessmen Marcelo Claure, Masayoshi Sun, and Jorge and Jose Mas.

Beckham has been working on bringing a team to Miami for several years, and admitted during Monday’s announcement there were times when he thought the idea might not work.

“It was difficult at times,” he said. “There were times when we sat back and said, ‘This is not going to happen, this dream is not going to happen’. It was too difficult, there were too many bumps in the road, but I don’t give up.”

The possibility of owning a franchise was part of Beckham’s move to the Los Angeles Galaxy from Real Madrid in 2007, with Beckham keen to get in on the ground floor of a league which has almost doubled in size since then when measured by the numbers of teams.

“I joined the Galaxy in 2007 because I realised the long-term potential of this league,” the 42-year-old said.

“I moved from Real Madrid, as you know a pretty big team, to come to a league not fully established.

“That was a big move, one that I always knew was going to be a challenge, an interesting, exciting challenge and I want to thank commissioner Garber because he came to me and say down and explained the plan of this league and where he wanted to take it. I was in. I was in from day one…

“People say this is a city that is built on dreams. Today you made my dream come true.”

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Real Madrid sweep Globe Soccer Awards as Ronaldo, Zidane win

Sport360 staff 29/12/2017

Cristiano Ronaldo capped off a golden year on Thursday night, winning his fourth Dubai Globe Soccer Awards Player of the Year Award in a glittering ceremony at Madinat Jumeirah Dubai.

And in a Real Madrid hat-trick, the team also collected the Club of the Year Award while coach Zinedine Zidane was named Coach of the Year.

Ronaldo, who for the fifth time running was the top scorer in the Champions League and finished the year with another title after scoring the winning goal in the FIFA Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi, triumphed over a stellar field.

The Portuguese beat several big names to the award including rival and Barcelona star Lionel Messi and the heir apparent for the title of the world’s best player, Brazil and Paris Saint Germain star Neymar.

Gianluigi Buffon, Paulo Dybala, Sergio Ramos and Kylian Mbappe were also among the nominees.

Ronaldo was unable to attend the gala, but sent his message of thanks over a live video link.

With Real Madrid taking Club of the Year it was no real surprise then that the man who has steered them to so many titles would win Coach of the Year. Zidane picked up his first Dubai Globe Soccer Awards title, having picked up the FIFA Best Men’s Coach Award in October.

In his first two seasons as manager, Zidane won the Champions League twice, a La Liga title, a Supercopa de España title, the UEFA Super Cup twice and FIFA Club World Cup twice.

Zidane was selected for the Award ahead of Chelsea’s Antonio Conte, Manchester United’s José Mourinho and Massimiliano Allegri of Juventus.

What did you make of the awards night?

Share with us your thoughts by commenting below, using #360fans on Twitter or getting in touch via Facebook.

Winners of the 2016 Globe Soccer Awards are:

Best Player of the year: CRISTIANO RONALDO

Best Club of the year: REAL MADRID

Coach Career Award: MARCELLO LIPPI

Best Coach of the year: ZINEDINE ZIDANE

Best Referee of the year: FELIX BRYCH

Best Agent of the year: JORGE MENDES

Master Coach Special Award: DIEGO SIMEONE

Sport Business Award: FERRAN SORIANO

Kooora Best Arab National Team of the year: SAUDI ARABIA

Kooora Best Arab National Team Coach of the year: HECTOR CUPER (EGYPT)

Player Career Award: FRANCESCO TOTTI / CARLES PUYOL

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