Stadium site contamination new headache for Beckham’s MLS team

 David Beckham likely needs to find a new site to house his MLS club. (AFP pic)

MIAMI: David Beckham’s Major League Soccer club in Miami may have hit a new stumbling block after an environmental report showed unexpected levels of contamination at a proposed stadium site, the Miami Herald reported.

The newspaper reported Monday that the analysis found arsenic contamination at more than twice the legal limit as well as hazardous debris in surface level soil at Melreese Country Club.

The 131-acre site near Miami airport has been put forward as Inter Miami’s permanent home, with a sprawling US$1 billion complex planned.

The report was alarming enough that Miami City Manager Emilio Gonzalez on Tuesday ordered the closure of Melreese golf course, Miami’s only city-owned course.

The Herald reported that the analysis by environmental firm EE&G – hired by Inter Miami – found that soil samples taken in recent months showed not only elevated arsenic levels but also barium and lead above legal limits.

Much of the pollution apparently came from a now defunct municipal incinerator.

The Herald reported that tests by the county Department of Environmental Resources Management yielded “similarly grimy results, showing high concentrations of lead in the soil at the site.”

It wasn’t immediately clear if the cost of additional cleanup would make plans for the stadium complex unfeasible.

Inter Miami officials have in the past estimated the cleanup would cost in the range of US$35 million.

Inter Miami is due to launch in 2020, with the club planning to build a stadium in time for next season in neighbouring Fort Lauderdale.

Beckham’s ownership group went to court in South Florida in May and obtained permission to demolish crumbling Lockhart Stadium, home of the now-defunct Fort Lauderdale Strikers which is to be replaced with an 18,000-seat arena.

The plan had been to use Lockhart for two seasons until the permanent home at Melreese Country Club is completed.

Lockhart is the sixth proposed stadium site for the club.