Miami-Dade County Commission eyes temporary home for MLS franchise

While the search for a permanent home for an MLS team in Miami continues, the idea of using a temporary venue is being put forward by the Miami-Dade County Commission.

The County Commission will vote Tuesday on a resolution directing Mayor Carlos Gimenez or someone designated by him to negotiate with Florida International University for the purpose of using the school's football stadium as a temporary venue.

District 11 Commissioner Juan Zapata -- in whose district the stadium lies -- co-sponsored the resolution along with Commissioner Barbara Jordan of District 1, Commissioner Jean Monestime of District 2, and Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz of District 12. The resolution, if passed, would give Mayor Gimenez or his designate 90 days to negotiate a deal with FIU.

Spokesmen for both MLS and Miami Beckham United indicated, however, that their focus remains on finding a site for a new stadium.

"Things are progressing in Miami, and we are very much on track in our plans," a spokesman for Miami Beckham United said via email. "David Beckham is very positive about the future of the club, and he continues to enjoy incredible support from the people in Miami. Right now, our focus is on identifying the location for a purpose-built stadium that will be the team's permanent home. Careful consideration will be given to FIU when we address the opportunities for a temporary facility."

A spokesman for Miami-Date County Mayor Carlos Gimenez indicated that the push to use a temporary venue isn't coming from Beckham's group.

"The mayor is evaluating the possibility of having Mr. Beckham's franchise begin play at FIU," a mayoral spokesman said via email. "However, [Beckham's] organization has not indicated a desire to see this arrangement be made, at least not to Mayor Gimenez."

Zapata didn't respond to a request for an interview, but he told the Miami Herald back in late December he thinks beginning play in a temporary venue is the way forward for Beckham's group.

"It makes it easier to sell a known product," Zapata told the Herald. "And it doesn't look good for us to not be proactive. Until we figure out a stadium plan, I think we've got to get a team on the field."

While Beckham's group attempts to figure out its stadium plan, other expansion candidates have ramped up their bids in recent months. Minneapolis has two competing bids, and is thought to be a favorite to land one of the remaining two spots in this round of expansion. Sacramento recently burnished its ownership group to include the Sacramento Kings and the family of San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York.

It was almost a year ago that Beckham's stadium push was kicked off with great fanfare at a glitzy press conference, but since then he has twice been beaten back in his attempts to secure a site for a new stadium. The first proposal would have seen a stadium built on Dodge Island, but the County Board of Commissioners voted that proposal down 11-1. Later, the group attempted to secure a site in downtown Miami's Museum Park that is currently occupied by a deep-water boat slip, but was turned down by city of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and City Manager Daniel Alfonso.

Following those defeats, Beckham's group made a conscious decision to be less public about its land acquisition efforts. Sources have confirmed to ESPNFC.com that Miami Beckham United has explored privately owned sites in recent months. But the cost of Miami real estate remains prohibitive and taking such an approach would see costs for the project skyrocket. Back in 2011, a 14-acre waterfront site that contained the old Miami Herald building was sold for $236 million to casino company Genting Malaysia Berhad.

Beckham recently gave an interview to E! Online indicating his group is making progress.

"We're pretty close to announcing certain things and then the stadium will come after that," Beckham said. "You can't build a stadium overnight, so finding the right site, finding the right place in Miami is important for us. But it will all start coming together pretty quickly and everything will start happening pretty soon."