MIAMI (CBSMiami) – International soccer superstar David Beckham is considering Marlins Park and FIU’s football stadium as two possible temporary homes for a new MLS soccer team while a new stadium is being built.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez confirmed the news to CBS4’s Gary Nelson Wednesday afternoon.
Beckham toured Marlins Park Wednesday afternoon and was seen on the field talking with officials. The Marlins had spent part of the day “sprucing up” the stadium and field ahead of Beckham’s arrival, the team’s head groundskeeper told Nelson.
Beckham has been in South Florida since Tuesday and had dinner at the home of billionaire Marcelo Claure, a potential partner and the owner of Brightstar Corp., a global wireless distributor Tuesday night, according to CBS4 news partner the Miami Herald
Mayor Gimenez was also a dinner guest, according to a source with knowledge of the MLS-to-Miami discussions.
Beckham and Claure will reportedly tour potential stadium sites Wednesday.
As part of his contract with MLS six years ago, he was given the option to buy a franchise for a deeply discounted $25 million upon his retirement. He retired last spring, said he’d like to exercise the option, and word is he hopes to present his plan to the league Board of Directors by the end of the year.
Miami is reportedly Beckham’s number one choice, but, the biggest hurdle is a stadium. MLS officials expect a soccer-only stadium to be built as a condition for awarding a new franchise.
MLS officials have told potential investors they prefer a privately funded soccer-specific stadium of 20,000 to 30,000 seats, if possible in an urban area with restaurants and shopping nearby.
Beckham toured Sun Life Stadium and FIU Stadium during a visit in June, but neither is a long-term solution.
Claure is on the Board of Trustees of FIU, and Beckham met with school leaders there, who believe their stadium is the perfect fit because of its size, location, and international student population.
According to two sources, Beckham’s associates have explored the option of using Marlins Park as a temporary home until a permanent stadium is built.
Scheduling would be difficult, as MLS and MLB play in the summer, and the field would have to be reconfigured. But the location and amenities are attractive.
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