Beckham insists MLS team won't cost public money

Sat Jun 7, 2014 11:48pm EDT
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By Simon Evans

MIAMI (Reuters) - David Beckham appealed on Saturday for support for his plans for a Major League Soccer stadium in Miami, insisting that he doesn’t want public money and will create "something special" for the city.

Beckham and his backers are currently negotiating for a waterfront site next to the Miami Heat’s American Airlines Arena in downtown Miami after plans for a venue at the port of Miami met local political resistance.

The second proposal, which involves filling in a large boat slip and placing the stadium in a new park area, has also come up against some opposition despite Beckham's team offering to pay for the arena entirely out of private funds.

That plan could go to a vote in a referendum in November and on Saturday Beckham fired up his campaign for support – visiting a downtown children's soccer center, as well as the heavily Hispanic Little Havana district, and posing for photographs with local residents.

"We feel that we are doing something positive for the city here and I think people know that," Beckham told Reuters in an interview after the event.

"At the end of the day, it can go one way or another, if we get the public support it can be incredible but if we don’t we will find a way to turn them around and make them realize that this is a great thing and we are not here to take their money," he said.

While sports teams across the United States regularly get public funding for new stadiums there is widespread opposition to that idea in Miami after $500 million was spent on a baseball stadium for the poorly supported Miami Marlins team.

Beckham's message to potential referendum voters, as well as the politicians he must convince to back his plan, is that his backers will be investing in the city and not arriving with the begging bowl.   Continued...

Former captain of England soccer team David Beckham attends a ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing April 21, 2014.  REUTERS/Jason Lee