Miami, Beckham group at odds over rent; will Beckham return to action?

David Beckham

With Miami looking for at least $12 million annually from an expansion MLS franchise as payment to build a new stadium on waterfront property, the team is upping the ante by holding out the possibility that owner David Beckham could return to the field of play.

After a plan for a new stadium on Port of Miami fell through, a disused slip north of American Airlines Arena was targeted as the Plan B for a privately financed stadium for an expansion MLS franchise owned by a group of investors headed by David Beckham We are talking about a huge gap in a valuation of what the disused slip is worth. The city reportedly has floated a figure of $12-$15 million as yearly rent for the use of parkland and the filled slip. Beckham’s group would pay to fill the slip and build a 20,000-seat soccer stadium — an investment of $250 million. Most communities would kill to have that sort of private investment for empty land and a disused slip.

But this is Miami, after all. Of course, the figure of $12-$15 million is patently absurd. Reading between the lines, it’s pretty easy to figure out what the city wants: for the Beckham group to bail it out of a crappy Miami Marlins deal and build a new stadium at the old Orange Bowl site:

“We came late to this discussion,” Mayor Tomás Regalado said, noting Beckham’s initial interest in building a stadium on county-owned land at PortMiami. “We have to defend the interests of the city of Miami.”

He added that reaching an agreement would be “an uphill battle,” and suggested unprompted that the idea of building a soccer stadium next to Marlins Park is not entirely off the table — though Beckham’s team has dismissed that site.

“Plan C is the Orange Bowl — even if it’s ‘spiritually tainted,’ ” Regalado said, citing a critique by Beckham’s business partner, Simon Fuller.

The addition of a $175 million or so stadium at the Orange Bowl site would unquestionably change public opinion about sports facilities: the development of the new Miami Marlins ballpark certainly put a bad taste in the mouths of many residents, who say it never delivered benefits to the Little Havana area. A new MLS stadium would certainly help the city out on the public-relations front, even if it’s accomplished in a particularly ham-handed fashion.

Meanwhile, it looks like the ante could be upped with the return of MLS to Miami: David Beckham is hinting he may come out of retirement if the project succeeds. From the BBC:

Appearing on a BBC One documentary, Beckham said: “There’s never been a player-owner but maybe?”

David Beckham: Into the Unknown will be shown on Monday, 9 June at 20:30 BST.

The show follows the former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder as he travels 800 miles by motorbike, canoe and plane into the Amazon rainforest on a 12-day trip.

Beckham admitted he had “a tough time” after retiring as a player but has gone through “a stage of enjoying the rest” and is tempted to come out of retirement.

David Beckham is perhaps the most famous soccer player amongst Americans: casual fans certainly are familiar with the Brit, but probably for reasons unrelated to the pitch: underwear commercials, movies and a celebrity wife. Still, anything Beckham does is news, and even one season as a player-coach would draw crowds both in Miami and the rest of the circuit.

Photo of David Beckham by Brett Flanders via

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