Cruise Ship Industry Vows to Take Down David Beckham’s New Port Stadium

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

PortMiamiIt seems not everyone is excited for the new soccer stadium in Miami that David Beckham is sponsoring. But as it happens, the biggest opposition is coming from the cruise industry. Led by Royal Caribbean, an alliance of cruise lines have come together to take a break from being complained about to being the ones doing all the complaining.

Royal Caribbean Cruises and its allies have formed an organization to oppose Beckham’s Major League Soccer stadium at PortMiami, and in doing so, have become the first group to offer resistance to the stadium. Calling themselves the Miami Seaport Alliance, the organization took out a full-page ad in the Miami Herald to voice their opinions.

The ad, titled “Here We Go Again,” attacks the 25,000-seat, open-air stadium that was slated to be built in the southwest corner of the port. But why exactly is the organization complaining? According to the ad, the alliance just doesn’t want the soccer stadium built at the port.

“The Alliance wholeheartedly supports a soccer franchise in Miami and believes there are other sites that would benefit greatly from a stadium,” the ad said. “However, PortMiami is not one of them, due to the risks a port stadium would pose to jobs, cruise and cargo operations, security, and the port’s promising future.”

It is no surprise to us that the Cruise Lines don’t think that PortMiami is a good place to put a soccer stadium. Getting 25,000 fans into the stadium will create major traffic headaches for the Port and the surrounding venues (The Miami Arena, The Adrienne Arscht Center, The Perez Art Museum, and the Planetarium, once completed).  All of these can only be accessed by their patrons from either Biscayne Boulevard or from the same expressway off ramps, as it is now when the Heat are playing and Arscht has an event. Also, the traffic at the mouth of the Port is all but a standstill as pedestrians are accommodated at the loss of traffic flow.

But are there really any “risks” to jobs?  It is highly doubtful that any cruise line or cargo jobs will be lost because of the stadium.  Cruise and Cargo operations? Maybe, But isn’t the “Tunnel” supposed to remove cargo traffic off of the Bridge and Port Bridge and the Streets?  What about security? Well, are the Cruise Lines really the best entity to be complaining? Given the fact that a new cruise accident or crime occurs almost weekly.  We think that instead of raising potential security issues at PortMiami, the Cruise Lines should all concentrate on improving their own shipboard and foreign port shore side security.

This week, our firm reported on the arrest of two assailants in Roatan Island, Honduras. One was arrested as a suspect in the shooting death of a Norwegian Cruise Line crew member, and the other was arrested for his alleged involvement in a string of cruise ship passenger robberies.

Last week, our maritime attorneys learned the disturbing news of a 13-year-old girl who was molested by a Disney Cruise Line crew member, back in February, a female Holland America passenger was nearly killed after a crew member brutally beat and raped her.

The lack of safety within the cruise industry has become such a mayor problem, that the U.S. government is now getting involved. Cruise lines are exempt from most U.S. government regulation since most ships are registered in foreign ports.  This loophole has allowed lines to get away with crimes and accidents that could have been entirely prevented, had the cruise companies focused their efforts on improving their safety policies and features.

Senator John “Jay” Rockefeller and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have both been advocating for greater government involvement in the cruise industry to reduce the number of accidents and crimes, especially since a vast majority are due to negligence.  But so far no real change has come of these efforts.

Whether or not PortMiami is a good venue for a soccer stadium certainly deserves detailed scrutiny and the attention of all Miamians, lest we end up holding the short end of the stick like we are with the Marlins’ Stadium. However to be taken seriously when talking about security, shouldn’t one’s own house first be safe itself ?