MIAMI BEACH –Building a Major League Soccer stadium at PortMiami would create a traffic nightmare, according to officials and residents in the neighboring city.
Miami Beach held a town hall meeting Wednesday to discuss English soccer star David Beckham’s proposal to build a 25,000-seat stadium on Miami-Dade County land.
Miami Beach commissioners passed a symbolic vote earlier this month welcoming professional soccer to South Florida but opposing the stadium proposal. The Miami Herald reports that some residents echoed those sentiments at the town hall meeting, saying a stadium at the port would add to the heavy traffic already clogging the highway that connects Miami Beach with downtown Miami.
A traffic expert for the city of Miami Beach said a preliminary analysis of the stadium proposal shows that the number of vehicles per hour on the MacArthur Causeway would increase from 2,700 to 5,100.
“So we are concerned,” the traffic analyst, Jose Gonzalez, said.
Beckham’s group has yet to release its own traffic study, but it sent a five-page memo from its traffic consultant to respond to some of Miami Beach’s concerns.
John McWilliams of Kimley-Horn and Associates, a major traffic-engineering design firm, said traffic and parking for soccer games would be split between downtown Miami and the port’s Dodge Island. He also said a new tunnel connecting Miami with the port has the capacity to handle game-day traffic without causing backups on the causeway.
“Based on our analysis, we do not expect the operations of a Port of Miami professional soccer stadium to adversely impact traffic in or upon entering Miami Beach,” McWilliams wrote.
Beckham’s investment group says the port location is desirable because of its closeness to the water and view of the downtown skyline.
Mayor Philip Levine owns a media company that works exclusively with Royal Caribbean cruise line, a main opponent of the stadium proposal, but he insists that his criticism is not business-related.
“Our issue, for us, is how it affects the residents of Miami Beach,” Levine said.