Up until now, David Beckham has been courting politicians -- to no luck -- for a Major League Soccer stadium site. Now, some of the elected officials appear to be courting him.
A group of current and former Miami-Dade County and city of Miami leaders have thrown their support behind a petition asking to build the stadium -- with the University of Miami's college football team -- in Little Havana.
"Support Beckham soccer stadium at former Orange Bowl site, and bring UM football back home!" reads the petition's title. (Notably, the petition mentions the beloved Orange Bowl, not the less-popular Marlins Park.)
It was endorsed Thursday by a cadre of politicians who have had reservations about the two previous locations proposed by Miami Beckham United: the county-owned southwest corner of PortMiami and the city-owned Museum Park and deepwater boat slip.
"I think we have to roll out the red carpet for these guys," he said of Beckham and his investors. "They were twice led in the wrong direction, and I think that's an ideal site."
Also promoting the petition, according to a news release, are Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez (the county commissioner's son), former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, and Coral Gables Commissioner Vince Lago. Francis Suarez and the rest of the city commission took a symbolic vote in Beckham's support earlier Thursday.
"This is a great solution that in theory should please many different constituencies," the four politicians said in their joint statement. "Beckham deserves the best our community has to offer, and we firmly believe this site would set his team up for success in our community long in to the future, while bringing the passion for Canes football back to where it belongs."
Talks between Beckham's group and UM broke down recently over the boat slip site, which was deemed too small to accommodate football. While MLS wants a 20,000-25,000-seat stadium, UM is interested in a larger capacity of 40,000.
Beckham's longtime business partner, American Idol creator Simon Fuller, has dismissed the mostly city-owned parcels next to the Miami Marlins' ballpark as "spiritually tainted" by the public financing deal for the baseball team.
But Xavier Suarez said he doesn't think that's the case -- and that if it is, the government's role should be to turn a perceived liability into an asset.
"The idea that it's tainted is all backwards," he said. "It's a fantastic site for a multi-stadium facility that allows us to compete for international events."