Charlie Hand has been living in Miami's Spring Garden neighborhood for almost two decades. He has dealt with the area’s changes firsthand.
“In this restaurant district, there’s music coming from restaurants and yachts out back and fireworks,” he says. “And that has diminished our quality of life, to be woken up in the night and early morning.”
Hand, who has two infants, may soon have a new neighbor: a stadium to host David Beckham's new Major League Soccer team in Miami. The new team is scheduled to start playing in 2020.
Even with the league's permission, there are still major hurdles between Beckham and his dream team. Miami-Dade County has not finalized the proposed stadium site. The Beckham group bought six acres in Overtown off of Northwest Sixth Avenue and another three acres is in the works.
“We live 300 feet from the proposed site,” Hand says. “You’re going to put a 25,000-seat stadium with no top on it 300 feet from my house. If we don’t have quality of life, what’s the point?”
Hand’s doubts echo that of other South Florida residents.
Past stadium experience – namely the Marlins Stadium in Little Havana and the renovation of Hard Rock Stadium (formerly Sun Life Stadium) in Miami Gardens – has some concerned Beckham and company could be heading down a similar path. Those worries include a fickle fan base, funding and gentrification in Miami's historic black neighborhood.
Still, avid soccer fans have been waiting for this moment since Beckham began looking for a stadium site in 2013. They’ll even have a say in the team’s name and colors, according to Michelle Kaufman, a sports reporter for The Miami Herald.
WLRN's The Florida Roundup checked in with listeners about what a new MLS team in Miami would mean for them:
To hear more about MLS coming to Miami, listen to the Feb. 2 episode of The Florida Roundup.