Stroll through the surroundings of the new Inter Miami stadium here in Fort Lauderdale and there is little sense of expectation and excitement that will accompany David Beckham’s debut as a franchise owner.
Fancy a conversation? The best you get is a technician from the neighboring industrial units who wonder why you are harassing them with football, or a suspicious construction worker who orders you to leave the stadium, because stories about delays have long plagued the £ 50 million project.
Regarding satisfying your thirst under the Florida sun, if you kindly ask at the Peace of Mind Pet Resort, you might get a dish of milk, but a cold beer is a 25-minute walk away, at least according to Google Maps.
David Beckham sees his Inter Miami start their first MLS campaign against LAFC on Sunday
After six years of fighting through various obstacles, the team is put together for game one
A kind-hearted soul in a high-vis jacket – working on the final preparations for the stadium – finally comes to our aid with a bottle of water.
However, you can bet that your bottom dollar, which comes their first home match of the MLS season – against LA Galaxy in just over fourteen days – there is ample opportunity to abandon your beautiful green once in the ground.
And it will be Beckham’s new side that looks beautiful in pink, the color that will adorn the team’s shirts and dominate their modest home with 18,000 seats, 35 miles north of downtown Miami.
Because this is where the franchise was forced to lay their inaugural foundation after encountering resistance in their ambitious plans to develop closer to the city in different places, a move postponed to 2022 in the hope that Miami Freedom Park will open.
The franchise had to start its life in a trampled and deserted part of Fort Lauderdale
Beckham admitted that there were times when he thought his project would not succeed
Whether angry residents or business owners, concerns about traffic or sewage, political hassle or even soil pollution, Beckham has come across them all in the six years since he announced his expansion franchise.
And that’s why we find the Inter Miami Stadium here, in a relatively suppressed and deserted part of Fort Lauderdale, about five miles inland from the beauty of the Atlantic waterfront.
Beckham is at least easily accessible. Next door – on Striker Boulevard – is the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, as well as a US Army Reserve. Beckham could very well have knocked on that door for some players who have fought over the past six months to put together a team.
But now they are ready for the big MLS kick-off, starting on Sunday at Los Angeles FC.
The club has already played friendly matches and they are ready for their first season
Beckham, who is co-owner with building magnates Jorge and Jose Mas, said: “I am more persistent than I thought and more stubborn than my wife thinks I am. There was not a single moment when I would walk away.
“I’m from East London, not Miami, so when I went there and tried to buy a piece of land, I didn’t talk to politicians anywhere, strangely enough. But Jorge came to me and the moment we met, I knew this would happen.
“We want to be known as one of the best and most feared franchises in MLS. I want to make a legacy that my children can turn around in 20 years and say, “My father helped build this club”.
That is a feeling shared by football fans in a part of Florida for whom the closest MLS team was 230 miles away before Beckham’s arrival in Orlando.
Glenn Golba is the director of the Palm Beach County Soccer League and he told Sportsmail: “It’s such a multi-faceted community here in South Florida that it’s a thriving soccer field – the kids love it.
Beckham has been the figurehead of the project, but attention will now finally go to the field
“Everyone can’t wait to have their own football club here. It has been a long time since the Fort Lauderdale Strikers left (2001), and people are ready to embrace it, really.
“There are so many people who are big David Beckham fans. His focus and intention is for the improvement of football.
“In the initial phase it can be difficult on the field, but as a fan we will accept that. It’s about creating the environment to move forward, that’s what the excitement is about. Beckham is a winner – it starts. “
While the private planes roar next door, it looks like the sky is the limit for Beckham and Inter Miami.