MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami-Dade County commissioners moved Tuesday to prepare a temporary place for soccer star David Beckham’s major-league team to play as early as next year.
Commissioners voted unanimously to have the administration negotiate with Florida International University for Beckham’s team to play at FIU Stadium, until Beckham chooses a site and builds a permanent stadium.
“It makes sense to keep talking about it and show the international community and the local community that we are serious about soccer,” said Commissioner Juan Zapata.
Taxpayers would not help Beckham pay the rent, but commissioners want to hopefully have a sweetheart deal with FIU for Beckham to field a team at FIU Stadium as early as 2016.
“I think South Florida is very needy of soccer, and especially a team led by Beckham,” said Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz .
A funny thing happened on the way to the FIU venue, however. David Beckham’s group issued a statement saying it is not interested, at least not now.
“Our focus is on identifying the location for…the team’s permanent home,” the Beckham statement said. “Careful consideration will be given FIU when we address…a temporary facility.”
Monday’s vote by commissioners is being viewed as more symbolism than substance. It may well be an effort to signal the commission is sorry for Beckham’s first two stadium site choices, both on Biscayne Bay, essentially being promised him, then yanked away under special interest pressure.
“I think we did him a big disservice,” said Zapata. “I know that when I’ve met with him, I have apologized, because I think we could have treated him a lot better.”
Symbolic or not, soccer fans cheered Tuesdays commission vote.
“We just want this to send a message to Major League Soccer, to everyone in the country, that Miami supports this and we are moving forward with it,” said Brian Corey of the group Southern Legion Soccer.
Late Tuesday FIU Athletic Director Pete Garcia said the school may be prepared to make Beckham an offer he can’t refuse.
“We just don’t want them going some place outside of South Florida,” Garcia said. “Whatever we can do to facilitate bringing Major League Soccer here, David Beckham’s group, we will do.”