Major League Soccer made it official Today (Feb. 5th): David Beckham’s announcement, as well as an invitation-only reception Tuesday night, drew politicians, movers and shakers, and serious MLS fans that’ve been campaigning for a professional team since the demise of the Miami Fusion in 2002. Beckham will get an expansion franchise, and its home will be Miami — if Beckham's investors score a new stadium.
"This is the first time in the modern era that an ex-athlete is joining the ranks of ownership," MLS Commissioner Don Garber said at a news conference.
To politicians, he promised: "If we can get this project over the goal line, we will be great, great partners."
A new team would begin to play in 2017, or possibly 2016.
Beckham, who retired from the LA Galaxy, exercised an option in his contract to purchase a franchise for a below-market $25 million. His investors include his manager and business partner, Simon Fuller, and Miami-based billionaire Marcelo Claure of the global wireless distribution firm Brightstar Corp.
Even with Beckham's star power, this attracted a mob of reporters Wednesday, a new team in Miami remains risky. Fans here are notoriously flaky — not even the National Basketball Association champion Miami Heat sell out all its games.
But Beckham said he thinks soccer can succeed here.
"I wanted to create a team that we could start from scratch," he said. "I know this city is ready for football —soccer —this time around."
"This is the furthest along we've ever been," said fan Brian Corey, a 28-year-old who owns an internet marketing company.
This time, Corey said he thinks soccer would thrive because Miami's demographics have changed —it's younger and more international —and because Beckham and MLS say they are committed to bringing a contender to the city's urban core.
Beckham could attract top players, Corey said, "because he's got all their cell phone numbers."
The event took place on the outdoor patio of the new Pérez Art Museum Miami, which not coincidentally has an unobstructed view of the southwest corner of the seaport. That's where Beckham's group, Miami Beckham United, would like to build a privately funded stadium on publicly owned land. The group has hired a Tallahassee lobbyist to seek a state sales-tax rebate that has been awarded to other sports teams in the past.
The investors are also considering other sites, including county-owned land by Marlins Park.
Beckham is scheduled to conclude his announcement tour by visiting youth soccer players Wednesday afternoon at Kendall Soccer Park. MORE
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