David Beckham personally declared Overtown the final choice for bringing Major League Soccer to Miami, and said the long-awaited league approval of his partnership’s deal for an expansion franchise will finally allow the group to bring a professional fútbol squad.
In an interview with Channel 10’s Glenna Milberg aired Sunday, the soccer legend acknowledged the rough road to announcing what his partnership is billing as the definitive end to his stadium quest: MLS approval of Beckham’s Miami franchise, and plans for a 25,000-seat stadium in Miami’s Overtown neighborhood.
“It’s been painful at times,” he said in the Channel 10 interview. “I’m a persistent person. I don’t like to lose.”
The retired MLS player and global soccer star’s local interview was part of a media blitz expected on Monday to formally announce MLS’ approval of Miami as the league’s 25th franchise, with plans to use private dollars to build a 25,000-seat, $200 million open-air stadium near the Miami River in Overtown.
One aim will be to tamp down any doubts about the Overtown location, the partnership’s fourth announced site since formally launching a stadium hunt in early 2014 with a Miami event that featured Beckham, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and MLS Commissioner Don Garber.
[David Beckham began his Miami stadium question in 2013, and it continues nearly five years later. Read a Miami Herald recap of his pursuit.]
Beckham’s newest partners, Jorge and Jose Mas, have privately continued discussions about other possible sites, raising questions about whether the soccer group might once again shift course and pursue an alternative site.
The Beckham group already owns six acres in Overtown off of Northwest Sixth Avenue, and has an agreement to purchase an adjoining three acres of county land under a deal with Miami-Dade that gives the partnership until later this year to close on the property. Bruce Matheson, a wealthy activist who owns property in the nearby Spring Garden neighborhood, is suing to overturn the county deal on procedural grounds but lost the first round and is appealing the ruling.
Miami’s zoning process provides a second chance to sue for Matheson and allied neighbors objecting to the traffic and noise the stadium will bring. But the soccer group already enjoys the support of Mayor Francis Suarez and would be building the facility in an area already home to Miami’s largest stadium: the 37,000-seat Marlins Park is about two miles away.
Before the Mas brothers —the top executives at Miami-based Mastec company and Beckham’s first local partners — joined the stadium venture in December, the partnership had pursued a stadium site on private and public land next to Marlins Park. But that was abandoned in late 2015 over what the partnership said was overpriced real estate, and the Beckham group declared Overtown the future home of MLS in Miami.
“This is our site,” Beckham told Channel 10. “This is a site we have paid for. This is a site we plan on using.”
Mas on Monday morning took to Twitter to share his excitement that the plan is coming to fruition.
“Good morning #Miami!” the tweet reads. “I have a feeling today is going to be a great day for our city. Who agrees? @futbolmiamimls”
Beckham feels it will be a good day.
After four years of trials and tribulations, the 42-year-old father of four will now have the opportunity to move to the next stage of his soccer life.
Beckham told ABC News' Adrienne Bankert in an interview that aired Monday on “Good Morning America” that he used what has happened over the past four years as a life lesson for his children: Brooklyn, 18, Romeo, 15, Cruz, 12, and Harper, 6.
“They've seen Daddy fly to Miami. They've seen him come back. They've seen him smile from talking about Miami. They've seen me frustrated,” Beckham said in the interview. “The way of teaching them is by saying it's not all smooth sailing. There's going to be difficult times. It's just how you react when you go through difficult times. That's what I've always tried to teach the kids.”