Everything looked perfect. The venue. The crowd. But no one looked more perfect than the man on the marquee, David Beckham, who wore a dark suit tailored tight against his trim body with the Bay of Biscayne as backdrop.
Fans chanted Beckham's name. Politicians sat close. Media representing a few continents turned out. And Beckham was positioned between the heads of Major League Soccer and the city of Miami to add tangible excitement to this news conference.
“This is a dream,’’ Beckham said.
It was all in place to toot horns, pound pans and whatever else might happen when Beckham announced the return of pro soccer to South Florida. But then the news conference began. And a small issue grew obvious as it continued on.
Namely, there was no news. Oh, Beckham said what has been said for weeks, that he wants to put a soccer team in Miami. But …
"The next thing is to get the right partners, get the right investors,'' Beckham said.
Whoa. The money isn't in place?
"And we have to get the stadium site,'' he said.
Wait. There's no stadium site?
"We've been promised a downtown site - I think we can say, 'promised,' '' Beckham said, turning beside him to Miami mayor Carlos Gimenez, who nodded.
So they're clear on that. And another thing.
"We don't want public funding,'' Beckham said about the stadium's construction. "We'll fund the stadium ourselves."
Well, sort of. Maybe. You see, Beckham's group has hired a lobbyist in Tallahassee to request the $60 million rebate for teams ($2 million-a-year over 30 years). Then there's the bayside property he wants the stadium on.
Gimenez has said the public would receive money for use of the real estate. But how much? And does the deal work?
So Wednesday was more about what you want to do – cheer an international sports icon wants to bring a team to Miami or apply some critical thinking over how far he has to go?
Take this idea of where the stadium would go. The first hope by Beckham seems to be a bayside site – "right over here would be nice," he said at one point, pointing to a spot - that is prime real estate.
The Marlins wanted a bayside park, too. Soccer fields need to need to align north-to-south to keep the sun out of goalkeepers' eyes. Most bayside tracts are sculpted more east-to-west.
Maybe that's a small thing. And you'd think these things were being worked out behind closed doors. But until these ideas go public no one knows quite what to make of Beckham's hope to bring a MLS team to Miami.
Is it realistic? Are there enough investors? Where's the site? How much public money actually is involved? Does it work for the public? Certainly anyone who appreciates a rich and diverse community hopes all these answers come together and soccer sparkles in a big arena.
But there's a lot of work to do, as Beckham kept saying. He might start with understanding South Florida as a sports community. The one-night summer exhibitions that sell out Sun Life Stadium won't necessariily translate to 25,000 fans at an MLS game.
That doesn't mean it can't work. It just means a realistic understanding of the time and place has to be part of the homework. Beckham, for instance, wants a downtown stadium so fans can walk to the game.
"Soccer fans, they love to walk to games,'' he said.
Uh, right, get back to us on that.
The idea of Beckham wanting to bring a team to South Florida has been around for weeks. Reports even trickled out days ago that the Heat's LeBron James would have a place in the ownership group.
"It's not time,'' James said Monday night before a Heat game.
That's what you have to say about Wednesday's hoopla and Beckham-induced excitement. Maybe it's time soon. Certainly it can be celebrated if it arrives. But Wednesday's news conference with no news wasn't time to cheer how good Beckham looks in a suit.