David Beckham Tours Miami Stadiums, Says Prospect Of Owning MLS Team 'Exciting'
David Beckham said that the prospect of owning a Major League Soccer team in Miami was "exciting" after he was urged to help bring a new franchise to Miami at a meeting with key political leaders on Saturday, according to Simon Evans of REUTERS. Beckham, accompanied by Bolivian-born billionaire Marcelo Claure, who wants to team up with him in owning a new franchise, "visited two potential stadiums." Bekcham also met with Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who "handed him the keys to the county." Beckham "sounded positive about the chances of taking his step into club ownership in Miami." Beckahm said, "I think bringing an MLS team here to South Florida would be... it's exciting. I think Miami fans are very passionate about their sports and very passionate about winning and of course, it would have to be success, but it's definitely exciting." Claure, owner of Bolivian club Bolivar, is a member of the board of trustees of Florida Int'l University and has "previously promoted the idea" of an MLS team playing at the school's 20,000-seat stadium. Beckham "also met with representatives of a fan group which has been campaigning for a team to come to the city" (REUTERS, 6/2).
TAKING THE TOUR: The BBC reported Beckham also visited NFL Miami Dolphins' Sun Life stadium, which holds around 75,000 fans. Miami-Dade Sports Commission Exec Dir Jose Sotolongo was among those who met with Beckham and said that "there was plenty of support for a top-flight team in Miami." Sotolongo: "We know that our community can support not only the international soccer (friendlies) that have been coming to Miami for a while now, but that it would support an MLS franchise" (BBC, 6/2). The PA reported "no firm agreements are in place" for Beckham to buy an expansion franchise, and that "other cities are also being considered." Beckham "retains a strong affinity for the game" in the U.S. Florida does not currently have a team in MLS, after both the Tampa Bay Mutiny and the Miami Fusion "were cut from the league" in '01 as part of a restructuring exercise (PA, 6/2).