David Beckham launches charm offensive ahead of stadium vote

Soccer great mingles with World Cup fans, visits children's hospital

By Christian De La Rosa - Reporter

MIAMI - David Beckham turned on the charm at multiple appearances in Miami Wednesday -- one day ahead of a key vote for his bid to bring a Major League Soccer franchise to the city.

The former international soccer star made a surprise visit to young patients at Nicklaus Children's Hospital, signing soccer balls and even playing video games. A few hours later, he appeared at Wharf Miami for a World Cup watch party with fans. And just before the crucial city commission tomorrow, Beckham will be hosting a public barbecue at the Regatta Club, less than a mile from Miami City Hall.

"We can only do what we came here to do and be positive and show people what we want to bring to the city of Miami and let the people decide," Beckham told reporters at the watch party.

Beckham and top business partner Jorge Mas will be pitching their plans for a Major League Soccer stadium on the site of the city-owned Melreese Country Club.

They want to ask the commission to let the voters have the final say in November.

Along with the stadium, they want to build a massive technology park, underground parking, public soccer fields, hotel rooms, retail stores and much more. 

The Beckham group claims the finished complex will produce about $44 million in tax revenue. 

But the proposal has its opponents.

Petitions are circulating to save the course and its athletic programs for children.

"Please do not pave our parks," said former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, adding it would be "a grave mistake."

Miami native and pro-golfer Erik Compton tweeted: "Friends please help protect this beautiful green space, this public golf course and this home to amazing youth programs."

Beckham's business partner Jorge Mas told Local 10 News senior political reporter Michael Putney this week that his plan doesn't completely get rid of the course and keeps the youth golf programs.

Their presentation in front of the city commission will start at 2 p.m. Thursday, followed by public comment. Many of the children who play at Melreese plan to speak.

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