David Beckham got the royal treatment in Miami on Saturday, calling the prospect of an MLS team in South Florida "exciting" as rhetoric surrounding the English superstar's MLS expansion aspirations continued to build.
After attending Game 5 of the NBA's Eastern Conference Finals earlier in the week, Beckham toured the football stadium of Florida International University with Bolivian billionaire Marcelo Claure and was presented with the keys to Miami-Dade County by mayor Carlos Gimenez after a meeting with the former LA Galaxy midfielder.
Beckham also got a first-hand look at Sun Life Stadium, which is the home of the NFL's Miami Dolphins, and met with MLS Miami Bid, a fan group which has put it's energy behind bringing an MLS franchise to the city.
“I think bringing an MLS team here to South Florida would be exciting,” Beckham told Miami's CBS4 News. “I think Miami fans are very passionate about the sport and about winning and of course, it would have to be success but it’s definitely exciting.”
The first incarnation of MLS in the area was short lived, as the Miami Fusion franchise was contracted in 2001 after four seasons in the league. Still, support doesn't seem to be in short supply, with Miami Dade County commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz making it clear that local government was 100 percent behind bringing an MLS team back to Miami.
"There is huge political support. It is not only from the county, it's 100 percent support from the municipalities, the mayors and the commissioner, the counselors from the different cities, they are also extremely supportive," Diaz told Reuters.
Beckham, who announced his retirement from professional soccer just weeks ago, had an option in his MLS contract for the purchase of an MLS expansion team at a reduced fee. On several occasions, he has confirmed his interest to exercise that option. Miami is one of several cities said to be in consideration.