David Beckham experienced both ends of the spectrum of how Miami residents feel about his proposed soccer plans on Thursday.
First, he met with his supporters, upwards of 100 people partying at Regatta Park wearing “Miami Futbol” shirts and soccer jerseys. The contingent received a pep talk from the international soccer star and face of Miami’s soon-to-be Major League Soccer team before marching through the park, past the adjacent parking lot and up to Miami City Hall’s door en masse with a banner that read “Miami MLS: Ready for Glory.”
And then, after more than three-and-a-half hours of public comment and debate, Beckham and his MLS group walked into city hall’s chamber, facing five commissioners in front of him and a host of meeting attendees who oppose his group’s plan filling up the majority of the chamber’s small gallery behind him. Their hope is that the Melreese Country Club, Miami’s public golf course and the site located near Miami International Airport that Beckham’s group hopes to use for its MLS soccer complex, stays the same.
This time, he was met with silence.
“It’s not a nice feeling,” Beckham said.
In the end, his group will have to wait until another day — specifically Wednesday — before finding out if a resolution will be put on the November ballot allowing Miami residents to decide whether to allow the group to begin building its massive soccer project where the public golf course currently lies.
Beckham said he admired the passion from both groups of supporters and the lengths that each went to defend their position on the argument.
The three hours of listening to commissioners poke holes and ask questions raise scruitiny over his group’s plan probably didn’t feel good, though. For the majority of his time inside the chamber, Beckham remained quiet, staring straight at the five-person committee that will determine if his group’s plans will advance to the next phase.
But with the massive divide showcased at the Miami City Commission meeting — and the fact that Beckham’s group kept the majority of the information about the proposal close to their chest prior to Thursday’s presentation — there’s work to be done between now and Wednesday.
The group finally released specifics regarding the near-$1 billion Miami Freedom Park proposal, including specifics about the 25,000-seat stadium, an exterior amphitheater and 23 acres of public soccer fields.
“I’m passionate about this game.,” Beckham said. “I’m passionate to bring this game to this city.”
But at this point, the only certainty with his group’s plans is uncertainty.
Commissioners questioned several points in the group’s proposal, including how they plan replace lost park space and who would pay for remediating contaminated soil.
That extends to specifics about the team, too.
There is still no team name, although it looks to be either Futbol Club Internacional de Miami (Inter Miami) and Futbol Club Atletico Miami (Atletico Miami).
There are still no team colors, with unnamed Miami MLS still toiling out black and white in the interim.
There’s still no logo, either.
But even with the unknowns, Beckham wants everyone to know that he’s still optimistic about the direction of the franchise.
“I hope that today you realize what we’re trying to do for the city of Miami, for your city,” Beckham said
He showed that at the pre-commission get together with the local supporters of his endeavor. Before he left the makeshift stage, he made one promise.
“No matter what, we’re coming to Miami,” he said. “Simple as that.”
But as Beckham has learned throughout his journey over the last four-and-a-half years of trying to launch an MLS team, nothing is simple.
Thursday’s city commission meeting was the latest example.
His group will go at it again in six days.