For the past six months, David Beckham has been making headlines with the prospect of adding a MLS team in Miami. Yesterday, MLS Commissioner Don Garber made the announcement that Beckham has exercised his expansion option, and it looks like Miami are going to be joining the league within the next couple of seasons. Beckham noted that it is an “exciting time for Miami and for himself personally.” This is the first time that an ex-athlete is joining MLS as a team manager.
Beckham has been adamant about getting football off the ground in the US and Canada, and he’s made good on that promise. Since Beckham joined MLS in 2007, eight new teams have been added, and global football stars have been making their move to MLS. This expansion has been a long time coming for Beckham; a part of his 2007 contract with LA Galaxy offered him the right to own a MLS team for a mere $25 million dollars, as opposed to the usual $100+ million. It was a smart move on Beckham’s part, and an even smarter move by MLS. With Beckham owning a team, Don Garber is confident that MLS will become a global brand more so than it already is.
In a statement from earlier this week, Beckham said, ”My journey has always been driven by my incredible passion for the game. Miami is a diverse community that thrives on the same type of energy that fuels the international appeal of soccer, and I look forward to a dedicated, long-term partnership with this dynamic city and Major League Soccer. My experience with the Galaxy is what convinced me that I wanted to one day own an MLS team and it is thrilling to now see that dream coming true.”
Beckham chose Miami because he “wanted to create a team that can start from scratch... It’s a vibrant city that is ready for football.” As for any players he hopes to bring in, he gave praise to the local talent, and already has global players that want a shot on his team. With Beckham’s resume, who wouldn’t want a chance to play for him? According to Beckham, he has already received interest from some former teammates who want to join his team, as well as retired players who are willing to help out any way they can.
Talks about the stadium are still in the works with Miami’s Mayor Gimenez and Beckham’s business partners, including his long-time friend Simon Fuller and Bolivian Wireless Telecommunications' Marcelo Claure. Beckham and his partners plan to build a privately funded stadium for the new team, and last week, Mayor Gimenez said they had “about 30 potential sites”. They are hoping to get the stadium plans in motion in the next couple of months after talks with potential investors.
One notable thing is that this isn't the first football team that has tried to make it in Miami; in 1997, the Miami Fusion held an MLS spot but failed to bring in fans, and bowed out of all competitions in 2001. It'll be interesting to see if Beckham can bring in fans that were once hard to find.
This will be a developing story over the next couple of months as we wait to see a timetable and the site for the stadium.