Miami mayor defends Beckham stadium plan20 april 2014, 14:15
The mayor of Miami on Friday defended David Beckham's plans to build a state-of-the-art stadium on the city's waterfront, rejecting criticism of the project by a coalition of business groups, AFP reports.
English superstar Beckham wants to build an eye-catching 25,000-seat stadium at the city's port for his as-yet-unnamed Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise.
Beckham's proposed location for the stadium -- on a prime strip of real estate -- has drawn the ire of a grouping this week which urged the former Manchester United star to find a different site.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez hit back at the proposal's critics.
"To be honest, there is nothing there, there is no deal-breaker for the port site," Gimenez told sports radio station 560 WQAM.
"Is it doable? Yes. Is there anything there that I believe will hurt the port? At least at this point, no."
The Miami Seaport Alliance said earlier this week the Beckham project would pose a threat to jobs, cruise and cargo operations at PortMiami.
"Even the hint of a disruptive, non-port operation -- such as a stadium -- could put thousands of jobs at risk," it said.
PortMiami is Miami-Dade's second-largest economic engine after tourism, the alliance says, contributing $27 billion annually to the local economy and supporting more than 207,000 jobs in South Florida.
Gimenez said most people he had spoken to were either "neutral or in favor," of the stadium.
"There is a lot of effort trying to derail this thing even before we have even made a final decision," he said.
The Miami leader said he backed the stadium being given a prized location in the city.
"It needs to go in the right place. It has got to be close to downtown, to the water somewhere, because that will be the image we want to portray around the world."
Beckham's plans for a Miami team have been generally well-received locally, although the side is not expected to take to the pitch until 2017 at the earliest.