by JAKE NUTTING
Time may be running out for David Beckham to get a stadium deal done for his long-gestating franchise in Miami, but he may have another option on the table — if he returns the messages the Tampa Bay Rowdies have left for him.
Only a little under a month into formally launching their campaign to bring the league back to Tampa Bay, the Rowdies say they have contacted David Beckham a few times to gauge his interest in checking out what they’ve built on the west coast of the state.
In an interview with EoS, Rowdies Owner Bill Edwards acknowledged he’d more than entertained the notion of calling up the former England star after his well-documented struggles in finalizing a deal in Miami – he actually dialed the English star.
“That’s come up so many times and there have been so many letters saying ‘Why doesn’t Beckham come to St Petersburg?” Edwards said. “The answer is yes, we have. We’ve tried to reach out to no avail, but [Beckham] should just come visit and take a look.”
Edwards even relied on some help from another former star of the England national team to get in touch with Beckham. According to Edwards, current Rowdies midfielder and past Premier League champion Joe Cole has been in contact with Beckham recently.
“We’ve got one of [Beckham’s] former teammates here — Joe Cole,” he said. “They played for years together. Joe’s reached out. They’re old friends. I can’t tell you what Joe and he said to each another, but we do know that Joe has done that.”
MLS Commissioner Don Garber told media members in December that the time is rapidly approaching for a final decision on whether or not Beckham’s Miami franchise will come to fruition. The group made headway on three different sites since MLS declared its intent to make Miami its 24th team in early 2014 — only to see each proposal evaporate for various reasons.
Hope was renewed in Miami’s bid when the group purchased six acres in the city’s Overtown neighborhood for a privately financed stadium in Spring of last year, but the effort then stalled out again during negotiations to purchase the last few acres from Miami-Dade County. The holdup is reportedly due to Beckham’s group needing time to secure more investors for the high price tag that comes with MLS expansion.
Edwards admits he doesn’t even know if Beckham’s franchise rights are transferable to another market or if his bid is inextricably linked to South Florida.
Still, Tampa Bay’s determined owner is leaving the door open for a discussion if Beckham is receptive to the idea.
“We’d love to see him come on over and say hello,” Edwards said. “Even if he didn’t join us.”