David Beckham didn't say much we didn't already know, but damn did he look good. Becks took the PAMM podium in a slate-gray suit this morning to officially announce Major League Soccer's newest team would be in Miami.
"Miami... is a vibrant city. It's a city with a lot of passion," he said, devilishly handsome, squinty eyes gleaming. "And I know this city is ready for football."
There were two important takeaways from the mega media event, however. First, Beckham said he had been "promised" by county officials that the team will be downtown. And second, that it will be privately funded.
"I just want to say this is an exciting time," Beckham said as TV helicopters buzzed overhead and several dozen diehard Miami soccer fans cheered and waved "MLS Miami" scarves. "This is an exciting time for myself, an exciting time for my family and friends and partners, and something that we are really looking forward to bringing to Miami. So thank you for the warm welcome."
MLS Commissioner Don Garber was quick to assuage fears that the team would become a divisive political issue, like the $2 billion Marlins Park.
"Mayor and county commissioners, I want to promise you that if we can get this project over the goal line, we will be great, great partners," he said. "We will be committed corporate citizens, and we will be good neighbors, and we will work tirelessly to deliver value to the people in this region."
Asked pointedly whether he would seek public funding, Beckham said no.
"We don't want public funding," he said. "We will fund the stadium ourselves. It's something that we've worked very hard to get to this stage where we can fund the stadium ourselves."
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez reiterated that public funds wouldn't go toward the team but that the stadium was still a major public issue.
"We want them to create an iconic stadium but also a great public space," the mayor said. "The stadium needs to be part of the fabric of Miami." Neither he nor Beckham mentioned any specific locations, but the underused southwest corner of PortMiami is a leading contender.
Asked why he chose Miami, Beckham answered, "Why not?" Then the former Manchester United, Real Madrid, AC Milan, and LA Galaxy star got serious.
"I wanted to create a team that we can start from scratch," he said. "I know that there was a team here ten years ago, and unfortunately they folded, but I think going forward I wanted to create a team that could be very personal. Everything that I've done throughout my career has been very personal to me. The decisions that I've made are all very personal. And like this, it's a big decision, but it's a very personal one. I want to make it my own team."
He also praised his business partners Simon Fuller -- "a very good friend, he actually introduced me to my wife" -- and Miami-based Bolivian billionaire Marcelo Claure -- "when I first came to Miami, him and his wife and his beautiful family welcomed us with open arms."
"We are very excited about this project," Beckham said. "Miami, as Don said and as the mayor said, is a vibrant city. It's a city with a lot of passion. And I know this city is ready for football -- soccer -- this time around. I know that this is going to be successful.
"I have always said throughout my career, whether there is challenges or not, to be successful you have to work hard. I've worked hard throughout my whole career, and I'm going to work hard for this city, and I'm going to work hard for this league to make this team very successful. I'm looking forward to spending a lot more time here."
Beckham waxed poetic about his vision for the team and his own rise to soccer stardom.
"We want to create a stadium, a football club, that is the people's football club. It's as simple as that," he said. "I've worked for some of the greatest football clubs in the world with some of the greatest players in the world. And this is a dream. If someone were to turn 'round to me at 11 years old and say, "You're going to play for Manchester United. You're going to represent England. You're going to play for Real Madrid, AC Milan, the Galaxy, and then become an owner, I probably wouldn't have believed them. But I've lived a dream.
"This is what football can do for you. This is what soccer can do for you. It can give you a great career. It can give you a great life. It can give you the most exciting passion that any sport can give you. And that's what we are bringing to Miami."
He also hinted at some big-name signings for MLS's 22nd team.
"I've seen what happens to teams when you bring great players in... I'm talking about the Heat," he joked. "When you look at a team like that, when you look at a franchise like that, you want success. You want people talking about the team.
"And yes, we will bring in great players into this team," he said, adding that some had already texted or called him. "Players are already interested in coming to Miami. Who wouldn't want to live in Miami and play in Miami?"
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The biggest news, however, was simply that the soccer stadium looks sure to be downtown.
"We want to build a stadium in Miami," Beckham said. "The city of Miami and the people of Miami deserve a stadium that they are proud of. They deserve a stadium that is in a great place.
"The commissioners, the board, the mayor has promised us -- I can say promised, I think -- that we will be downtown," he said. "I think it's important that we are in this part of the city. I've seen what Micky [Arison] and his family have done with the Heat. I've seen the arena, all they've created. I've seen the buzz."