David Beckham Promises "Downtown" Stadium for Miami's New Major League Soccer Team
David Beckham didn't say much we didn't already know, but damn did he look good. Becks took the PAMM podium in a slate-gray suit this morning to officially announce Major League Soccer's newest team would be in Miami.
Photo by Michael E. Miller MLS Commissioner Don Garber, David Beckham, and Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
"Miami... is a vibrant city. It's a city with a lot of passion," he said, devilishly handsome, squinty eyes gleaming. "And I know this city is ready for football."
There were two important takeaways from the mega media event, however. First, Beckham said he had been "promised" by county officials that the team will be downtown. And second, that it will be privately funded.
"I just want to say this is an exciting time," Beckham said as TV helicopters buzzed overhead and several dozen diehard Miami soccer fans cheered and waved "MLS Miami" scarves. "This is an exciting time for myself, an exciting time for my family and friends and partners, and something that we are really looking forward to bringing to Miami. So thank you for the warm welcome."
MLS Commissioner Don Garber was quick to assuage fears that the team would become a divisive political issue, like the $2 billion Marlins Park.
"Mayor and county commissioners, I want to promise you that if we can get this project over the goal line, we will be great, great partners," he said. "We will be committed corporate citizens, and we will be good neighbors, and we will work tirelessly to deliver value to the people in this region."
Asked pointedly whether he would seek public funding, Beckham said no.
Photo by Michael E. Miller
"We don't want public funding," he said. "We will fund the stadium ourselves. It's something that we've worked very hard to get to this stage where we can fund the stadium ourselves."
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez reiterated that public funds wouldn't go toward the team but that the stadium was still a major public issue.
"We want them to create an iconic stadium but also a great public space," the mayor said. "The stadium needs to be part of the fabric of Miami." Neither he nor Beckham mentioned any specific locations, but the underused southwest corner of PortMiami is a leading contender.
Asked why he chose Miami, Beckham answered, "Why not?" Then the former Manchester United, Real Madrid, AC Milan, and LA Galaxy star got serious.
"I wanted to create a team that we can start from scratch," he said. "I know that there was a team here ten years ago, and unfortunately they folded, but I think going forward I wanted to create a team that could be very personal. Everything that I've done throughout my career has been very personal to me. The decisions that I've made are all very personal. And like this, it's a big decision, but it's a very personal one. I want to make it my own team."