On the rare occasion when an individual transitions from professional athlete to professional sports team owner, there is a curiosity in the role they will encompass. For now, it is clear that David Beckham will be the face and voice of Major League Soccer’s new Miami franchise.
In Wednesday morning’s press conference, Beckham was the lone representative of the new club while onstage with MLS Commission Don Garber and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez. Initially Mayor Gimenez, whose resume reads more technocrat than politician, appeared to be out of his element during his speech, referring to Beckham as “Beckman” and confusing soccer/ football jargon. It was, however, the question and answer portion that displayed Beckham’s amateurism.
That’s not to say Beckham embarrassed himself. He showed the mega star charisma necessary for an event clearly meant to be a pep rally. It was Beckham’s long winded and presumably unscripted answers that will likely put him and his business partners in a difficult negotiating position.
Many questions were left unanswered: when the team will start to operate and play, who are all the investors involved, and what will be the team’s name? Beckham did answer the always important question regarding public financing of a stadium. Within the answer, however, there was a statement that probably made Beckham United (we’ll use this moniker in the mean time) partners cringe, “We don’t want public funding. We will fund the stadium ourselves.”
That is the headline out of the announcement. No public funds would pay for the stadium. Does no public funds include city or county owned land? Does that include public funds for infrastructure upgrades for the surrounding area?
It was a declaration needed to re-insure the public after the bitter feelings still lingering from the Marlin Stadium deal. Public funds will be needed to upgrade the transportation infrastructure. It is extremely doubtful that Beckham United would pay for a new parking garage, improvements to the train station, and widening roads leading to the stadium. What about tax breaks and initiatives to go with the deal? Would Beckham United not ask for those either?
Doubt it, but Beckham said, “We don’t want public funding.” The second sentence will be omitted. Once a figure is placed on what Miami-Dade County will owe, expect to hear that sound bite again. Mayor Gimenez, who is negotiating the deal, along with several county commissioners in the audience were probably giddy after that statement.
That’s the danger of going unscripted in public, you never know what will be held against you in the court of public opinion. That goes double when in the middle of a multi-million dollar negotiation.
Former New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets owner Jay Z once proclaimed “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man!” That would have described Beckham before today. He is officially an owner of an MLS franchise, not just the face of a future project. From now on he might want to choo-choo-choose his words more wisely.
Throw-ins from the presser:
Tweet of the press conference goes to Toronto FC who inspired that closing line:
— Toronto FC (@torontofc) February 5, 2014
Dan Dickinson @GothamistDan tweeting that a company called Intelisport Inc. applied to the United States Patent and Trademark Office for the registration of Miami Fusion FC. I initialled miss read the screenshot because I was reading it from my phone. So Beckham United and MLS are not protecting themselves as I tweeted. Intelisport Inc is squatting/ patient trolling the name:
Again, I'm expecting the team to be named "Miami Fusion FC", as Becks' lobbyists re-activated the trademark in June. pic.twitter.com/d99Q5e9Raw
— Dan Dickinson (@GothamistDan) February 5, 2014
Since a date was not provided for their inaugural season it is fool-hearted to speculate on who Beckham United’s is signing as their first DP. That’s of course if the DP rule even remains by then.