So, it seems Major League Soccer to Miami with David Beckham is finally going to happen.
Beckham’s long and winding journey towards owning his own MLS franchise began in 2014 when there was an announcement in the City of Miami alongside Don Garber.
The former LA Galaxy star had exercised an option in his playing contract to own his own franchise and he wanted the team to be in Miami. Easy.
Not so much.
Since then many issues have arisen, mostly around a stadium deal downtown and then near Marlins Park in the Little Havana district of Miami.
It appears that headway is being made after a court ruling favored Beckham being able to buy the remaining three acres of land he needed to make the 25,000 stadium (costing him over $175 million) in Overtown a reality.
According to Dan Courtemanche (MLS’ executive vice president, communications) Beckham’s franchise will be officially announced in the coming months.
“We look forward to working with David, Todd Boehly [majority owner] and their partners to finalise their expansion plan. David and his partners have committed a significant amount of time and resources to put everything in place to bring Miami the elite-level soccer team and stadium it richly deserves. We expect to make an official announcement to launch a new Miami expansion club in the coming months,” Courtemanche told the BBC.
So, we’ve been here before many, many times, so what’s different this time?
Beckham has a stadium deal in place with land secured and the project in Overtown appears to be a near-perfect fit for an MLS team in Miami with a downtown location the aim all along.
The main delay over the past three years has been getting a stadium site for Beckham and Co. (the ownership group he has put together includes Bolivian billionaire Marcelo Claure, his agent Simon Fuller and sports executive Tim Leiweke) but they appear to be nearly there and Garber will feel vindicated for giving the former LA, Manchester United and Real Madrid star extra time to figure things out in a very complex sports town. (RIP, Miami Fusion).
With MLS aggressively expanding right now, Miami was in danger of being left behind.
But with LAFC launching in 2018, two more MLS expansion franchises set to be announced in the next month and Miami now looking likely, MLS will soon grow to 26 teams with another two teams expected to be announced before 2020 to reach the stated league target of 28.
Pinch yourself soccer fans in Miami. This appears to be happening.