MIAMI (CBSMiami) — International soccer star David Beckham isn’t the only one who hopes to bring a MLS soccer team to South Florida. One of Beckham’s co-investors is Marcelo Claure who’d like to see soccer played in Miami but on the waterfront.
One of Marcelo Claure’s prized possessions is a soccer ball signed by the great Pele.
He keeps it at his office in West Miami-Dade where he runs Brightstar, the world’s biggest cell phone distribution company with $20 billion in revenue.
When Claure, 43, is not conducting business his passion is soccer, a sport he and his pal David Beckham are determined to bring to Miami.
“It’s shocking to me that the most cosmopolitan city in the U.S. doesn’t have a soccer team,” Claure said.
Claure met Beckham through Jennifer Lopez, who starred in a promotional campaign for his company. He took Becks to a Heat game, dinner at Zuma Restaurant in downtown Miami and paid a visit to South Beach. Beckham was sold as Miami as the future home of his new MLS team.
“He immediately fell in love with Miami,” Claure said of Beckham. “He thinks this is a great place, a beautiful place where he wants to bring his team.”
Claure already owns a soccer team in his home country of Bolivia. As head of the Bolivian Soccer Federation he was instrumental in Bolivia’s first World Cup appearance in 1994.
In Miami, he and Beckham want their stadium on the water. They’re offering to spend $250 million of their money and pay rent if it’s built on county or city owned property. Claure insists the new stadium stand out from other sports venues in South Florida.
“Unfortunately there’s not much to say about the places where we play sports in Miami,” Claure said. “I wouldn’t consider the Dolphins’ stadium iconic at this point in time and the Marlins stadium is certainly not iconic.”
After facing opposition to a stadium at Port Miami, Claure told me he’s excited about the so-called “Boat Slip” site, an underwater parcel next to the American Airlines Arena. The site would have to be filled at an estimated cost of $18 million. Miami voters would also have to vote in a referendum to allow the site to be used for a soccer stadium.
“It’s a very attractive location,” he said. “It’s one we’re seriously looking at and studying.”
Claure said he’s tired of flying to other cities to enjoy exciting soccer matches.
“I have three passions; my family, my work at Brightstar and soccer,” he said. “If I can have all three in Miami it’s a great thing.”