David Beckham and his investors hope to move the ball a little closer Friday in their bid to bring Major League Soccer to Miami.
Beckham’s business partner, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure, confirmed he is scheduled to have a video conference with Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado and the mayor’s staff Friday morning to discuss the stadium issue.
Beckham will not be at the meeting, which Regalado said would also address a city cellular project with Sprint.
The meeting comes about a month after Beckham helped revive buzz over his long-sought team when he flew to Miami for a pair of meetings with Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Donna Shalala, then finishing up her tenure as president of the University of Miami.
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Joined by MLS Commissioner Don Garber and Claure, Beckham discussed the possibility of partnering with UM to build a stadium next to Marlins Park for his soccer squad and UM’s football team, according to various people at the meetings.
Regalado was traveling that day but spoke with the Beckham group by phone and met that week with Shalala about the stadium.
There is no indication the Friday meeting will involve UM, and talks of a joint stadium appear to have cooled. In an interview Thursday, Regalado said he hasn’t spoken to UM officials since his meeting with Shalala last month, who resigned as president in May. He said UM participation appears to be a crucial element for Beckham’s group.
“UM is the component,” Regalado said.
This week, Regalado joined several county commissioners for a meeting on the possibility of extending the county’s rail system to the Marlins Park area if soccer moved there.
In the interview, Regalado said he doesn’t consider the lack of public transit a problem for the Beckham side or UM, based on his conversations with both parties. “I really don’t think transportation is the issue here,” he said.
Friday’s meeting also comes about 18 months after Beckham launched his celebrated push for a Miami soccer stadium. His bid for government-owned property on Biscayne Bay quickly hit resistance, and his squad of lawyers, financiers and lobbyists have been unable to secure a site.
After first dismissing land next to Marlins Park as “spiritually tainted” by the unpopular baseball stadium deal from 2009, Beckham’s group now is pursuing land there. Called the “former Orange Bowl” site, it would let Beckham’s new team share garage space with the Marlins. It also has the advantage of being mostly city-owned, letting Beckham negotiate terms without having to deal with the profit demands of a private landholder.
Regalado played a central role in blocking Beckham’s bid to bring soccer to Miami’s Museum Park. Now his daughter, Raquel, is running against Gimenez for county mayor in 2016.
Beckham’s group, which includes Claure and American Idol creator Simon Fuller, has also scouted at least one as-yet-unidentified site in Overtown that is privately owned and reportedly is considering a third site from the private sector.
A fan group called Southern Legion, which supports the Miami MLS project, is planning a rally outside City Hall during the 10 a.m. meeting.