David Beckham watched his old teams Manchester United and Madrid do battle last night in Miami, where he has been trying to establish a football franchise for the past five years. But during that time, bureaucratic obstacles have not stopped getting in his way.
Four times he has had to change location for the proposed stadium development, which the MLS obligates him to build. The latest proposal by the former England captain and his financial partner MasTec (an investment group headed up by local magnate Jorge Mas) is to build a one-billion-dollar stadium with a 25,000-seat capacity on the grounds of Melreese Country Club, the only municipal golf course in Miami located nine kilometers from the city.
And just hours before Miami City Commission was to vote to approve the proposal two weeks ago, an attorney filed a lawsuit against city hall, arguing that the city’s competitive bidding laws were not properly followed. To make matters worse for Beckham, environmental concerns were raised when it was revealed that the site was a former toxic dump, and just last week, 40 golf carts were set ablaze in a suspected case of sabotage.
Despite the constant setbacks, Beckham is determined to persevere to win over a city that has yet to succumb to his charm. “He’s a marketing genius, there have been raffles to watch the World Cup with him, he visits hospitals,” wrote Marta Oliver-Craviotto in local Hispanic newspaper, El Nuevo Herald, “but it’s not easy, when he left city hall he said it was the first time that he had entered a room and nobody smiled at him.”
The final decision on the stadium development will now be determined by a public referendum in November. And in polls already conducted by Beckham and his partners, 70 percent of those surveyed said they would vote to change the city’s competitive bidding laws so the plan can go ahead.
But Miami citizens may dubious about the plan for another sport stadium, after $488 million-worth of public bonds were seemingly wasted to finance the Miami Marlins baseball stadium, which is half-empty each game. Wasting tax-payers money on multi-million-dollar sports stadiums is a hot topic in the US, but, of course, not all stadiums come with the glamour associated with David Beckham.