David Beckham owning a Major League Soccer franchise in Miami is no longer a dream.
It became a reality on Monday.
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A glitzy announcement took place at the Adrienne Arsht Center but MLS said “additional news and information on the club – including its debut season in MLS, team name, logo and staff – will be announced in the future” on the expansion franchise.
The team was first announced in February 2014 but has seen plenty of difficulties along the way, particularly when it came to a stadium site.
During the announcement Beckham and his partners admitted that “just 60 days ago” they had a breakfast which was the end of the bid and they thought it was all over, while local businessman Jorge Mas revealed that he stepped in to become a partner and help save the bid. Two months later the franchise is a reality.
It has been stated by local media outlets that the team will begin play in 2020, with the team to play at a temporary home until 2021 when their stadium is ready, while the colors and team badge will be picked with the help of fans in the coming months.
Miami hasn’t had an MLS team since the Miami Fusion folded in 2002 and they will become the second current MLS team in the State of Florida after Orlando City SC. With Nashville announced as MLS’ 24th team in December 2017 and Atlanta United joining for their inaugural season in 2017, the South East of the United States of America is fast emerging as a soccer hotbed.
Speaking alongside MLS Commissioner Don Garber and both the Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez at the event on Monday, Beckham was delighted to make his franchise officially official.
“Our mission to bring an MLS club to Miami is now complete, and we are deeply satisfied, grateful and excited,” Beckham said. “Our pledge to our fans in Miami and around the world is simple: your team will always strive to make you proud on the pitch, our stadium will be a place that you cherish visiting, and our impact in the community and on South Florida’s youth will run deep.”
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) January 29, 2018
A video featuring several superstars was played during the announcement with Jay-Z, Neymar, Will Smith, Serena Williams and others sending their congratulations.
Garber said it was “a day that will go day as one of the historic days in our league and the history of sports in Miami” before adding the following in a league release.
“It is with tremendous pride that we welcome Miami to Major League Soccer,” Garber said. “With David Beckham, Marcelo Claure, Jorge and Jose Mas, Masayoshi Son and Simon Fuller leading the way, we know the right people are in place and the time is right for Miami to become a great Major League Soccer city. This ownership is committed to bringing Miami the elite-level soccer team, stadium and fan experience it richly deserves. We look forward to working with the entire organization on a strategic and successful launch for Miami’s MLS club.”
An initial announcement came in Miami on Feb. 5 2014 that Beckham had triggered a clause in his previous playing contract with MLS — he joined LA Galaxy from Real Madrid in 2007 — which stated he could buy an expansion franchise for the reduced fee of $25 million (that expansion fee is now over $140 million). He picked Miami as his preferred destination for a team in 2013.
Since then Beckham has battled with finding a stadium site near Downtown Miami to build a soccer-specific venue, but failed with multiple sites.
However, a site in Overtown, less than two miles from Downtown MIA, has now been found and all of the remaining parcels of land have now been purchased for over $28 million to allow development to start.
The stadium is expected to hold 25,000 fans and Beckham and his ownership group, which includes Simon Fuller, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure, Tim Leiweke, plus Jorge and Jose Mas and Masayoshi Son who were added in December 2017, will fund the stadium privately.
Miami’s arrival in MLS will see the league grow to 26 teams with 25 now confirmed and one of Detroit, Sacramento or Cincinnati to be confirmed later in 2018.