MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Retired soccer great David Beckham has been making the rounds in South Florida in his campaign to build a Major League Soccer stadium in Miami.
Flanked by his entourage of advisers, Beckham arrived at the Miami Herald building in Doral Thursday morning sharply dressed and ready to meet with the Editorial Board which will consider its meeting when deciding whether or not to endorse the stadium proposal.
“Obviously the last time I was here, I was supposed to be here (at the Miami Herald), but obviously the schedule ran over and we ended up missing it. I just wanted to come down and I know how important the Herald is to the people in Miami and the community,” said Beckham before the meeting. “I thinks it good that I’m going to be spending a lot of time here over the coming years, so it’s nice to meet the people who are going to be writing great stuff about our team.”
When asked if he and his team has a had a chance to go over a proposal made Monday by Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez which would put the stadium on the downtown Miami waterfront, Beckham said they were looking it over.
“We’re doing a lot of research at the moment. Obviously it’s only been a day since we heard about it, a couple of days really, but we’re doing everything we need to do to make sure that we can use this possibility,” said Beckham.
Beckham said meeting with the Editoral Board and having the public’s approval for the stadium proposal was key for moving forward.
“For me it’s the most important thing. For me it’s more important that the public agrees happily where we want to put the stadium than anything else,” said Beckham. “I’ve said from day one, I want it to be a club that they feel is their club. So if it’s a decision they can possibly make, where they feel we should have the site, that would be perfect.”
Beckham’s group has run into mounting resistance to building a 25,000 seat open air stadium at their number one site pick – PortMiami.
A group called Miami Seaport Alliance has taken out television, radio, and digital ads against building a stadium there. The alliance consists of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Norman Braman, Florida Foreign Trade Association, the Latin American Business Association and South Florida lawmakers.
The alliance claims having soccer games at the port would disrupt normal port operations which generate over $27 billion dollars a year in economic activity. Beckham’s group counters that the alliance is really just Royal Caribbean trying to preserve its space at the port and that a careful review would show that soccer there would help, not harm, the port.
As for Gimenez’s proposal to build the stadium on this boat slip between the AmericanAirlines Arena and Museum Park, Beckham called it “interesting.”
“At the moment we’re in a good position. Obviously we’ve been working hard on a couple of particular sites but obviously since this new one came up, this is interesting so we’ll see,” said Beckham.
The downtown waterfront site would cost an extra $17 million to drain the water then build a foundation and a seawall.
Beckham’s business partner, top television producer Simon Fuller, was also in attendance at the Editorial Board meeting Thursday.
The men explained they would capitalize on Beckham’s “brand” to promote the soccer venture. The athlete-turned-model’s international appeal will potentially lure big sponsors and revenue.
Fuller also met with Mayor Gimenez at County Hall Thursday afternoon.
“He’s receptive of the site,” Gimenez said of the alternative location between the American Airlines Arena and Museum Park.
The mayor said he believes a decision on a final location could be reached by as early as this summer.
“We really want to create something special for Miami. And that’s Mr. Beckham’s vision and it’s my vision,” Gimenez told CBS4’s Lauren Pastrana “And the fact is, he’s paying for it.”
Gimenez gave Beckham’s group two weeks to thoroughly vet the new proposed site. The City of Miami owns the land, so if it becomes the new top site, the commission would have to sign off on it.
Beckham says the PortMiami site, despite the opposition, remains his preferred site.
Critics of the port site have said they would have no objection to the stadium being built by the arena.
Here’s more video of Beckham’s visit at the Miami Herald.
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