Major League Soccer (MLS) has confirmed that David Beckham will bring an expansion franchise to Miami, but plans for the new team’s home stadium are yet to be confirmed.
At a ceremony in Miami yesterday (Monday), MLS commissioner Don Garber announced that with an “extraordinary” ownership group and an agreement in place to build a world-class stadium, the Florida city had been officially granted an expansion team.
The club will be owned by Beckham; Marcelo Claure, chief executive of telco Sprint and board member of SoftBank; Jorge and José Mas, the Miami-based leaders of telco and construction firm MasTec; Masayoshi Son, founder and chief executive of SoftBank; and entertainment entrepreneur and manager, Simon Fuller – a long-time Beckham associate.
Beckham initially confirmed his intention to launch an expansion team by 2017 in February 2014, but has faced multiple challenges in the process, chiefly securing a site for a new stadium. MLS said additional news and information on the new club – including its debut season, team name and logo – will be announced in the future. However, it is expected that the new team will begin play in 2020, albeit at a temporary home until the new stadium is ready in 2021.
MLS said Miami’s team will play in a privately developed, 25,000-seat stadium in the city’s urban core. In addition to the stadium, the ownership group plans to build a privately developed training centre and academy focused on developing local athletes.
The Beckham group does not yet fully own a nine-acre site in Miami’s Overtown neighbourhood that was announced in late 2015 as the chosen destination for the stadium. The proposed site is also in the midst of legal challenges and the City of Miami must approve zoning changes and street closures required to build the facility. The Beckham group has until later this year to fully close on three acres of Miami-Dade land needed to complete the site.
Bruce Matheson, a wealthy activist who also played a key role in the decision that saw the Miami Open tennis tournament leave Key Biscayne for the home of NFL American football franchise the Miami Dolphins in Miami Gardens, owns land near the Beckham group’s Overtown site and has already sued to block the county’s sale of the three-acre site.
The Miami Herald newspaper said the Mas brothers have had private discussions about other potential sites and Overtown was not mentioned by name yesterday. Miami-Dade County Mayor, Carlos Gimenez, said: “They still have to purchase our land in order to finish the process.
“I believe that’s where it’s going to be. But I don’t own the team. I believe that’s where it’s going to be in the end. But again being (the Mas brothers are) fairly new, if I were in their shoes, I would do my due diligence on every site.”