Beckham rounds up South Florida support prior to big vote

MIAMI (WSVN) - David Beckham met with community members in several South Florida cities to gain support for his plan to bring soccer to Miami ahead of a big city commission vote.

Beckham and business partner Jorge Mas rounded up some South Florida support, Wednesday as he tried to score a major league soccer team for Miami.

While his future dreams of bringing soccer to Miami is in the hands of city leaders, Beckham went on a feel-good mission. The Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce welcomed him at The Setai hotel.

He met with young soccer players and residents at Evelyn Greer Park in Pinecrest Wednesday morning at an event hosted by the Village of Pinecrest and Pinecrest Tribune.

He also made a stop by the Miami Police Department and spoke to law enforcement about leadership and building a successful team.

“We got to talk about unity and leadership and creating a winning culture,” Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina said. “It was great.”

Beckham visited Nicklaus Children’s Hospital to meet with patients, pose for pictures and sign a few soccer balls.

Beckham also hosted a World Cup watch party at The Wharf outdoor venue in Downtown Miami.

“We can only do what we came here to do and be positive and show people what we want to bring to the City of Miami,” Beckham told 7News, “and then let the people decide.”

All of this comes a day before his presentation to the Miami City Commission on Thursday.

The commission will be taking a look at the plan to put a soccer stadium and complex on an area that would take over the Melreese Country Club and golf course. This plan would involve leasing the land from the city.

Beckham sounded confident during a radio interview Wednesday morning.

“Now we have the right partners, the right ownership group, the right people that really care about this town, about Miami, and that’s why it’s happening,” he said in the interview. “It was worth the wait. I didn’t expect it to take this long, but there was a reason why it took this long, and now, we’re ready.”

Soccer fans 7News spoke with are in support of the new stadium and MLS team.

“It’s an integral part of our culture, and it’s very pivotal — that tomorrow’s meeting — and I understand there will be people supporting there, that people support this project,” said soccer fan Jordan Rosales, “because it’s a project that will not only bring the Miami community together but make this more of a global city.”

There are critics of the plan, like Sara Matos who enjoys the programs at the Melreese Country Club. “It breaks my heart to know that I may or may not have this place,” Matos said as she got emotional.

Some are shaky about the last big stadium built in Miami, Marlins Park, which was developed with Miami-Dade County taxpayer dollars.

But Mas said this deal is completely different.

“First, the voters decide. The voters couldn’t decide on the Marlins,” said Mas. “The taxpayers funded Marlins’ stadium. There’s zero taxpayer money here.”

Others said they feel that the matter is being rushed before city officials who have not had enough time to examine it thoroughly.

“Not rushed at all. The fact we’re taking on all the risk, not asking anything of the city, I think this is a transaction that tomorrow hopefully the commissioners allow the voters to decide,” said Mas.

Either way, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said the decision should be up to Miami residents.

“It’s an incredible vision that would create 60 acres of parks, 23 acres of soccer fields and an incredible MLS team, which would be a destination globally,” said Suarez. “It’s up to the residents to decide whether they want to do it or not. The commissioners should allow them to decide.”

As of Wednesday evening, it looks like two commissioners are ready to take it to the votes, but two are not. This leaves Commissioner Ken Russell, who is undecided, to break the tie.

If Russell favors a vote of the people, the citizens of Miami would decide the next step in the process.

If Thursday’s vote by the city commission sends the issue to the residents, it’ll be on the ballot in November.

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