It was typical Miami. A podium, filled with the assembled, suited important members of Beckham’s MLS bid. As he stood there, looking the part, against the backdrop of a sunny beach, the final transformation of post-football Beckham was complete. Since his emotional farewell in the equally glitzy Paris, we’ve seen the final change from the baby-faced football superstar to the suave, impressive businessman we all foresaw.
It’s a far cry from the lad who burst onto the Old Trafford scene. Shy, awkward and talented, that Beckham could not have played the Miami public, media and Don Garber in the way the businessman did. His expert ability, in an almost politician way, was shown as he stated that his Miami team will not use public money, his smile rewarding the applause.
It’s easy to sound good on a script, but Beckham handled the media questions with ease. Admittedly, the questions were horrendous. Beckham was there to announce his Miami team and no-one even asked what the name of his team would be. A particular highlight was the journalist who asked “has Sir Alex Ferguson texted or called you about wanting to manage this Miami team?” Beckham smiled, and politely answered no. Funny that.
It was clear from the announcement, that brand Beckham would have a great effect. Don Garber mentioned that it was a groundbreaking day. The first ex-athlete to involve himself in the ownership of a club. Beckham, speaking of his “excitement,” revealed that several top players have spoken to him about playing in Miami.
The idea of playing in Miami is a contentious point, and also revealed just how much work there is to be done before his team will begin. Despite MLS’ insistence that teams have a stadium plan before becoming a franchise, Beckham does not have this. Not only does it show that the real prerequisite to become a franchise is money, it demonstrated the trend of “ifs” that were too prevalent in the conference.
“We will be in downtown, you can’t build a stadium in sixth months but once we have a site and work with the mayor and the commissioners, we will be quick. Hopefully.” These were hardly encouraging words from Beckham.
It is known that Beckham has looked at several sites, but it is clear Beckham favours the vacant, commission owned land at the Port of Miami, and would like to lease it. However, there is as of now no deal in place. Furthermore, the group still need the approval of the Miami-Dade commission who failed spectacularly with the Miami taxpayer’s money when the baseball stadium of the Miami Marlins was built.
Ringer in the ears of the Miami advocates is the criticism of Miami’s sporting history. Notoriously hard to please and fair-weather in nature, the critics expect this Miami team to follow the route of the ill-fated Miami Fusion who folded in 2003 as they descended into debt.
Those critics are however forgetting one thing. This isn’t your usual team. Backed with Beckham, and likely, LeBron James, the Miami bid represents the language of Miami: money, fame and tourism. With the two celebrities bringing the fame and the money, the only issue this time will be whether fans pile into the stadium. However, one look at MLS teams with disappointing attendance such as the Red Bulls suggests that high attendances aren’t the be all and end all.
There may be plenty of negatives, but the potential positives make this Miami move crucial. Not only can Beckham bring in the superstars and add the needed publicity, but his franchise also breaks down a wall for MLS: the south. Miami was once the cause of the hostility towards soccer in the south, but now with the return of Miami, the likes of Atlanta see their bids viability surge with the right structure in their bids.
Standing above the crowd of fans, media and bosses, Beckham flashed his trademark smile. “Why Miami?” “Why not?” Beckham answered.