Beckham launches bid for cash to fund stadium for Miami franchise
Florida's Senate President-designate Andy Gardiner, Republican of Orlando, talks with former England soccer player David Beckham (C) and Mark Abbott, president and deputy commissioner of Major League Soccer during a visit to the state legislature in Tallahassee.
David Beckham opened his quest to secure some public funding for his Miami MLS franchise with a visit to the Florida Capitol on Tuesday.
Beckham met with state Governor Rick Scott in Tallahassee just a day after revealing exciting plans for a spectacular new stadium in the Port of Miami area.
The state-of-the-art stadium would be open-air with views of the bay and downtown Miami skyline, with a capacity that could go as high as 35,000.
Beckham confirmed at the unveiling that he and his group of investors would be lobbying for some public funding and the Florida Legislature is advancing a bill this year which creates a process letting professional sports teams compete for a share of the state’s tax dollars.
"No one’s promised me anything," Beckham said about his brief visit.
"But they promised me that they support having the team in Miami and are excited about that.
"It’s good that they haven’t promised me anything, because then I know it’s going to be fair and the decision will be down to what they think is best for the state."
Beckham also attempted to allay fears about his long-term commitment to the project, which would see the yet-to-be-named Miami franchise play their first MLS fixtures in 2017.
He added: "I’m sure I’m going to need to come back here. At the end of the day, I’m very committed to this cause. I’m very committed to what we’re going to make here. And that’s what I’m all about.
"I’ve always been committed to everything I’ve set my mind to. It’s not something that we’re going to start the team and then in two years say thank you very much and leave.
"This is something that I’m in for the long haul and something I’m very excited about. I know we’re going to make Miami proud to have a stadium like we hope to build and that people in Miami and people around America will be proud of."
Gov. Scott confirmed he could support a bill as long as it has safeguards to ensure a return on investment, and said of his meeting with Beckham: "It’s exciting he wants to invest in Florida."
But the path to public funding could well be a tricky one to get to the end of with some members of the Miami-Dade delegation, where the proposed stadium would be built, not supporting the financial aid concept.
Carlos Trujillo, a Republican member of the Florida House of Representatives, said: "It’s poor public policy.
"There’s no economic development study that shows that giving taxpayer dollars to for-profit industries is good for the community.
"I encourage them in their pursuit to bring a MLS team to Miami-Dade County, but I hope they use their own money just like any other business would."