Miamians from different communities came together to discuss soccer Thursday night. Even though some of those attending the town hall meeting were wearing Miami soccer gear they were not all talking about the first game to be played in the coming year.
They were there to hear the latest pitch from Beckham Group representative Timothy Leiweke.
Some residents from Overtown and the neighboring community of Spring Garden were also on hand. The feeling from Overtown residents resonated a skeptic tone. Pastor William Williams said, "We have seen a lot of smokescreen that has come through this community in the name of progress."
He was referring to past promises made to Overtown residents who were looking for economic growth and job opportunities.
The plan is for the Beckham group to purchase land over two blocks at the corner of Northwest Sixth Avenue and Northwest Eighth Street. The stadium will seat 25,000 and have a partial roof. Some of the land is owned by Miami-Dade County, which means it can be purchased without a bidding process. But, under the economic-development law, there is a package of hiring requirements.
Some residents from Spring Garden, an adjacent community, were not happy about the stadium being that close to their homes.
Doug Hanks of the Miami Herald was there. He said Spring Garden residents were worried about property value. He said one resident said, "I've got this boathouse on my waterfront property and the stadium's gonna cast a shadow on it."
Hanks also mentioned that Beckham's group was starting a "hotline to deal with Beckham stadium rumors that people could call."
"That was pretty unusual to me," Hanks said. "That surprised me."
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez was in attendance as was Audrey Edmonson, the county commissioner whose district includes Overtown. He said there must still be some zoning changes. Miami will also have to close a one-block stretch of Seventh Street to accommodate the stadium.