In recent news, the former England captain and renowned footballer, David Beckham, expressed his excitement about the possibility of owning a Major League Soccer (MLS) team. During his visit to Miami, accompanied by billionaire Marcelo Claure, Beckham explored potential stadium locations and had a meeting with Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who symbolically presented him with the keys to the city.
Beckham, who retired from professional football last month, had previously played in the MLS with the Los Angeles Galaxy. His contract included an option to establish a new team for a fee of $25 million (£16.45m). While Beckham has other potential locations in mind, he shared his optimism about the prospects of owning a club in Miami. In an interview with CBS4 News television, Beckham remarked, “I think bringing an MLS team here to South Florida would be… it’s exciting.”
Support for a team in Miami is not limited to Beckham alone. Miami Dade County commissioner Jose ‘Pepe’ Diaz expressed strong backing for a team in Miami and emphasized the widespread political support. In an interview with Reuters, Diaz stated, “There is huge political support. It is not only from the county, it’s 100 percent support from the municipalities, the mayors, and the commissioner, the counselors from the different cities—they are also extremely supportive.”
During his visit, Beckham explored various stadium options. One potential location was the Sun Life Stadium, which currently serves as the home of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins. The owner of the Dolphins, Stephen Ross, recently established a soccer division within the organization. Beckham had the opportunity to meet with Mike Dee, the Dolphins’ chief executive, at the stadium. However, the stadium’s capacity of approximately 75,000 fans may be deemed too large for an MLS team.
Accompanied by British entrepreneur Simon Fuller, Beckham also visited a 20,000-seat stadium at Florida International University (FIU). The stadium, which underwent significant renovations in 2007, currently serves as the home ground for the university’s American football team. Marcelo Claure, owner of Bolivian club Bolivar and a member of the board of trustees of FIU, has previously advocated for an MLS team to play at this venue.
Prominent figures within the Miami sports community, including Jose Sotolongo, the executive director of the Miami-Dade Sports Commission, expressed confidence in the city’s readiness for a top-flight football team. Sotolongo emphasized the international and soccer-savvy fan base in Miami and highlighted the positive impact an ownership group led by Beckham could have on the community. “We know that our community can support not only the international soccer (friendlies) that have been coming to Miami for a while now, but that it would support an MLS franchise,” said Sotolongo.
During his time in South Florida, Beckham met with representatives of a fan group called MLS Miami Bid, who have been actively campaigning for an MLS team in the city. Julio Caballero, the group’s spokesperson, expressed optimism and a positive sentiment among the fans. Caballero stated, “I feel really good about it, it looks really positive. It is pretty much down to Beckham now, I have heard he will make his decision inside 90 days.” Caballero also emphasized the potential impact Beckham’s involvement could have on Miami, highlighting the class and expertise Beckham and Claure bring to the table.
It’s worth noting that Miami had a previous encounter with an MLS team—the Miami Fusion. The team joined the MLS in 1998 but had to cease operations after four seasons due to the league’s challenges at the time. Currently, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, competing in the second-tier North American Soccer League, is the only professional team in the area. The owner of the Strikers, Aaron Davidson, expressed openness to meeting with Beckham and welcomed the prospect of a healthy rivalry if another team emerges in South Florida.
David Beckham’s interest in owning an MLS team has generated excitement and garnered support within the Miami community. With strong political backing, potential stadium options, and enthusiastic fans, the prospects of a new MLS team in Miami are promising. Beckham’s decision, expected within the next 90 days, could mark the beginning of an exciting new chapter in South Florida’s soccer landscape.