It’s fair to say David Beckham has found things more difficult than first expected when it comes to launching his own MLS franchise in Miami, but it seems as if there may finally be light at the end of the tunnel.
It was more than two years ago that the Beckham camp and MLS announced that the former LA Galaxy star had exercised an option to buy a MLS franchise for the cut-price sum of $25 million.
But since that day in February when the announcement was made, Beckham and his backers have struggled to find a location for a new stadium in the city. As a result, Beckham Miami has been leapfrogged by two new franchises and now they seem to be not playing until 2019.
While it has taken Beckham longer than he expected to get to this point, there is a feeling major progress has been made this year, to the point where the group expect to make a major announcement regarding the club’s status by the end of 2016.
Talks are also ongoing regarding investment in the club, said to involve Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Wes Edens and, after failed and publicly played out attempts to secure sites in downtown Miami, PortMiami and next to the Marlins Park baseball stadium, six acres of land have been secured in the district of Overtown.
There’s still work to do, though, and negotiations continue with Miami-Dade County regarding an adjacent plot which is required to enable the $300m stadium to be built.
‘We have the right site, the right ownership group, and a loyal base of fans counting down the days until our first match,’ Claure, the CEO of telecommunications giant Sprint, said in a statement issued earlier this year.
‘We’re all-in on Overtown, and we couldn’t be more excited about moving forward with plans to deliver the most responsible stadium in Miami history.’
With the league ultimately aiming to reach 28 teams, Los Angeles Football Club are slated to kick-off in the 2018 season as a reboot of the former Chivas USA team meaning, if Miami do not reach the field until 2019, they will become the 24th team to join the league when they were originally intended to be the 22nd. Cinncinati, Detroit, Sacramento and St Louis, who recently lost their NFL franchise to LA, are all contenders to fill the remaining spots.
Beckham’s MLS side will require blockbuster names on the pitch, just as the man himself was when he joined Galaxy in 2007, with a host of players already being linked. There has been wild talk of Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic has already revealed he turned down an approach before moving to Manchester United, while reports in Spain suggested Roberto Carlos was at one point lined up as a potential head coach.
Having Beckham onboard in an ownership capacity is seen by many as a vehicle to allow the league to take yet another step forward.
‘Miami has been a challenging situation for us for many years,’ commissioner Don Garber said in an interview with Sports Illustrated recently.
‘We are as close as we’ve been, though that hasn’t changed over the last couple of months. We are still working with the investor group to finalize their stadium situation and to solidify their total ownership structure.
‘It has taken more time then all of us had hoped. But one way or another, we feel like we’re getting close to the end of the process.’
Beckham will be hoping he is right.