David Beckham, fashion icon, underwear model, former professional kicker of soccer balls, is bringing a soccer team to Miami.
First, some background. Becks spent a handful of his final playing years with the LA Galaxy. In 2012, his last year in Major League Soccer, he’d led the team to a cathartic MLS Cup trophy the year prior, and was chasing a repeat.
MLS has a rule. Fifteen minutes after the final whistle, every team must open the locker room and let in reporters. Social obligation and a few basic rules keep the interactions as dignified as possible, given the circumstances: no still photography, no staring, wait until a player is dressed to talk to him, etc. But when everyone is waiting for one player, it can get a little awkward. A pack of slobby journalists all pack about five feet away, pretending to look in other directions, while the player pulls on pants.
Once, as a swarm awaited Beckham, in only his boxer briefs, a bearded beat reporter asked what it’s like to have a pack of people watch you get dressed. David Beckham shook his head. “It never gets old,” he said.
Goldenballs attracts this kind of abs-close scrutiny. Drop him anywhere on the globe – the girls will squeal, the boys will fawn, and both will lust.
Compare his mass appeal with much of the rest of MLS, still craving ratings and fans barely two decades into existence. The league shows steady, consistent growth, especially when luring fans to games, but average TV ratings lag behind even spelling bees.
So they’re back together. Beckham triggered a clause in his original playing contract to own a franchise, which he will put in Miami. Beckham, MLS Commissioner Don Garber and Miami mayor Carlos Gimenez held a press conference at a swanky museum overlooking the bay to announce the news (which has been an open secret for weeks).
Here’s what we know:
- Beckham and Simon Fuller (the dude who created American Idol) will own the team.
- People care. Every news outlet within 200 miles had a camera at the museum, capturing Beckham’s gorgeous, gorgeous smile. God he’s dreamy. You can flick on any sports or news outlet in this country today, and there will be a segment about Sir David of Beckingham. So the team has that going for it.
Here’s what we don’t know:
- The name.
- The logo.
- The start date. Preliminary talk suggests beginning in 2016, but that’s not official yet.
- The stadium location. Gimenez apparently promised Beckham it will be downtown. Beckham, for his part, says there won’t be any public funding, though one assumes tax payers will have to chip in to build infrastructure and public transportation.
- The rest of the owners. The press release sent out by MLS reads: “The remainder of the ownership group will be finalized over the next several months.” Beckham thanked telecommunications billionaire Marcelo Claure as a partner, so it’s safe to assume he’s involved. Others (LeBron James) may join.
- If the club will succeed. Miami had a team previously (called the Fusion, which is a great name to call a company based in Miami, just in case any company brass is reading this) and it went under. Garber pointed out several differences: that team was based in Fort Lauderdale, it was a different era, the last several expansion teams have taught the league a lot about how to approach new franchises. Plus, the previous incarnation didn’t have Beckham.
After the conference, Beckham went back up to the mic for one last comment.
“I hear your concerns. I hear the issues. I hear everything that you have to throw at me,” he said. But this thing is real, and it will succeed, he maintains.
One imagines plenty more glitzy press conferences will follow.