David Beckham dressed in a crisp white suit, standing on a street near Miami’s South Beach, waving thousands of fans towards the stadium of his new Major League Soccer franchise.
That was the dream for Beckham and his Miami Beckham United (MBU) ownership group, but as the long search continues for a stadium site in and around Miami, it has now turned into a bit of a nightmare.
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It has now been almost two years since MLS announced a new franchise would be heading to MIA but in that time little to no progress has been made with regards to a stadium. After first being knocked back on a potential downtown waterfront site and then recently seeing a deal collapse to build a stadium next door to MLB’s Miami Marlins — we told you that was a long way from being confirmed a few months ago here at ProSoccerTalk — Beckham is in a sticky situation.
Appearing on CNBC on Tuesday, MLS commissioner Don Garber gave the following update on Beckham’s plans for a new stadium.
“It’s really real-time. They’re trying to solidify their site,” Garber said. “We’ll be meeeting with their ownership group if not in the next couple of days, certainly in the next few weeks to try to see if we can really put a stake in the ground and hopefully finalize having David Beckham and his partners be owners in our league, which we’re excited about.
“We need to finalize their stadium site and ensure it’s a proper location. Right now they don’t have that plan finalized. They will come to us and ask us possibly to approve a location as early as this weekend at our MLS board meeting in Columbus. If that should happen over the next few days, we could at least take one step closer toward finalizing our deal with him and hopefully having a team in Miami.”
So, not much of an update from Garber there which has been a reoccurring theme over the past 18 months whenever he’s been asked about any progress in South Florida. However, the “hopefully having a team in Miami” line certainly seems to suggest this franchise becoming a reality is not as cut and dry as it once seemed.
Beckham has had his franchise deadline extended on multiple occasions but in this MLS board meeting, it is believed that a firmer deadline will be handed to the former Manchester United, Real Madrid, LA Galaxy and England star. Throw in the fact that on Tuesday USL outfit Sacramento Republic released stunning plans for a new downtown stadium site and more pressure than ever appears to be mounting on Beckham to get this deal done.
What are the options, stadium wise, for Beckham and his consortium which is backed by Bolivian billionaire Marcelo Claure? Well, not many. Having a temporary home at Florida International University, 16 miles west of downtown, seems like the most viable short-term option. That would at least allow MBU time to scope out other areas and although Garber and league officials seem insistent that a stadium deal has to be put in place before they finalize MLS heading back to Miami for the first time since 2001, the commissioner has put himself in a tough spot after allowing New York City FC to play in a temporary home at Yankee Stadium during their inaugural season in 2015, with no real plans coming forthcoming for a permanent home.
Speaking to owners and CEO’s around MLS recently, it is clear they want “brand Beckham” in the league and it would be a great thing to have a successful franchise in Miami, one of the USA’s biggest media markets. However, it comes to a point where enough is enough and either MLS changes its stance on the stadium deal having to be in place, or they simply have to cut ties with Beckham and let him either move on to another city or can the idea of him owning a franchise altogether.
Time is certainly ticking for Beckham and with Sacramento and other North American cities pushing hard to try and join the MLS party, there’s only so much leeway that can be given to the legendary figure.