Miami commission gives David Beckham’s group, city the go-ahead to negotiate MLS stadium deal

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The “MLS in Miami” leadership group, spearheaded by Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure and former Manchester United, Real Madrid and LA Galaxy superstar David Beckham, has been given the all-clear to begin officially negotiating with the city of Miami to build a brand new soccer-specific stadium which will house a Major League Soccer franchise.

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The investment group, officially titled Miami Beckham United (MBU), was cleared to begin land and a number of other official negotiations with the city after Miami commissioners unanimously voted Thursday to authorize discussions between the two sides.

The location, which was last week revealed to be next door to the Miami Marlins’ baseball stadium in the Little Havana neighborhood, will be built mostly on land currently owned by the city. One of the main points of discussion between MBU and the city will be to determine in what way(s) the city will be compensated for its property. Additional land, both commercial and residential, may have to be purchased, as well.

MBU will meet next week with the MLS board of governors during the league’s annual All-Star week meetings, where a full update is expected to be given to the ownership groups of the league’s 20 current teams and three prospective or future franchises, Atlanta United, Los Angeles FC and Minnesota United, as well as top league officials, including commissioner Don Garber.

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According to Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, Beckham’s option to purchase an MLS franchise at a severely discounted price of $25 million (recent expansion fees of $70 million, $100 million and $110 million have been paid by the aforementioned groups) is set to expire within the next three months, at which point MBU “just [needs] some kind of recognition that they’re talking to an entity [the city] that does want to talk to them about the possibility of building the stadium,” says Regalado.

After a number of other potential stadium deals have fallen apart in the face of MBU — granted, none as advanced and promising as the developments of the last week — it would be wise to proceed with caution when declaring “MLS is coming to Miami” just yet, because much like the ongoing stadium situation in Washington, D.C., I’ll believe this one is really happening not when a shovel goes into the ground, but only when the first ball is kicked.