Local politicians are making overtures to David Beckham a year after Miami-Dade County rejected the international football star's proposal to build a new stadium for his proposed Major League Soccer team.
Last week, commissioners suggested that Beckham’s team play temporarily at Florida International University. Now, another commissioner has introduced legislation asking Beckham to consider building on a site mostly owned by the city of Miami next to Marlins Park.
The latest resolution, sponsored by Commissioner Bruno Barreiro, requests that County Mayor Carlos Gimenez negotiate with Beckham over the potential site, part of the larger Little Havana property that housed the old Orange Bowl. The commission’s economic prosperity committee is scheduled to consider Barreiro’s proposal Thursday.
Even if it’s adopted by the committee and later the full commission, however, the legislation means little in practice. Gimenez could certainly suggest ideas to Beckham’s investment group, Miami Beckham United, but the organization is under no obligation to sit down with the county to discuss any of them.
Moreover, the city, not the county, would be the key government player in any Little Havana stadium deal. And city officials say neither Beckham nor his colleagues have reached out to Miami since the summer, when the city rejected a potential stadium on what is now a deep-water boating slip downtown. Earlier, the county had also said no to a stadium at PortMiami.
The investors — retired player Beckham, American Idol creator Simon Fuller and Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure — had been cool to the Marlins Park site from the start, citing the unpopular public financing for the ballpark and the fact that the remaining property would only be able to fit a relatively modest soccer stadium. MLS, which a decade ago negotiated a draft Little Havana soccer stadium agreement with the city, said last year that the site is inadequate because it’s not downtown or near public transportation.
Miami Beckham United, perhaps still stung by last year’s political upheaval over the proposed stadium, welcomed Barreiro’s legislation without sounding particularly warm to the idea. The group says it has been working quietly for months to find a privately owned property for a stadium.
“Miami Beckham United appreciates the support put forth by Commissioner Barreiro and his fellow commissioners,” the group’s local spokesman, Tadd Schwartz, said in a statement. “David, Marcelo and Simon are committed to bringing a Major League Soccer club to Miami-Dade County, and we’re still working toward that goal. While the prospect of building a stadium near the site of the former Orange Bowl is of interest, a number of viable options are on the table.
“In the end, our goal is to identify a stadium site that meets the needs of our fans, our club and the league.”
Beckham told the BBC in an interview posted Monday that delays in launching his MLS franchise have been “frustrating” but that he expects some sort of announcement in “the next couple of months.”