David Beckham awarded Miami MLS franchise
Miami will become league's 25th franchise
Beckham first exercised option to buy franchise in 2014
After years of wrangling and complications over potential stadium sites, David Beckham has finally been awarded a Major League Soccer franchise in Miami, Florida.
The former Manchester United and LA Galaxy star appeared alongside MLS commissioner, Don Garber, at the Adrienne Arsht Center Monday where it was announced that the league’s 25th franchise would be based in the city.
“Our mission to bring an MLS club to Miami is now complete, and we are deeply satisfied, grateful and excited,” Beckham said in a statement released by the MLS.
Garber added that the league was “committed to bringing Miami the elite-level soccer team, stadium and fan experience it richly deserves.”
The Beckham franchise will be backed by Cuban-American businessmen Jorge and Jose Mas, CEO of Sprint Corporation Marcelo Claure, entertainment producer Simon Fuller and the founder of Japanese telecommunications firm SoftBank, Masayoshi Son.
There was no word Monday on the team’s official name nor the colors it will play in. Similarly, there was no announcement about when the Miami franchise will officially join the league.
A statement released on the MLS website revealed that the team will play in a privately developed 25,000-seat stadium within the city.
Although no location for the stadium was confirmed, local media reports land in the city’s Overtown district has been purchased by the Beckham ownership group.
Beckham, 42, first announced his intention to exercise his right to buy an MLS franchise in 2014.
The option was part of the lucrative contract the former England international captain signed when he agreed to moved to LA Galaxy in 2007.
Beckham, who also played for Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan, spent five years in LA before finishing his career at PSG in the French capital.
With film star looks and Spice Girl wife Victoria, Beckham was one of the most marketable football players in the world over the course of his playing his career – even though he lacked the playing talent of contemporaries such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Zinedine Zidane.
Former US Men’s National Team and LA Galaxy coach, Alexi Lalas, told CNN last year that Beckham’s celebrity helped raise the profile of the MLS and pushed soccer to a new audience in the US.
Beckham’s plans for a franchise project, however, has been complicated since the beginning.
Numerous sites were considered for the team’s home before eventually being rejected or held back by red tape.
The Miami Herald reported over the weekend that a local landowner and neighbors of a slated stadium site in the city’s Overtown district were organizing to block zoning approvals required to finally begin construction.
Back in December, Garber said at his annual “State of the League” address that the Miami franchise was the “most complicated” he had been involved in during his time at the MLS due to the complexities of the local political scene and property market.
The city of Miami was previously home to the MLS franchise the Miami Fusion, which was drafted into the league in 1998.
Yet the Fusion lasted only four years and was cut from the league in 2002.