Photo by Javier Garcia/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
We have all heard the rumors by now of David Beckham’s interest in bringing an MLS team back to Miami, but what we have not heard is when would be the target date for that.
According to a report from the Associated Press, Beckham has not only settled on owning a team in Miami but is hoping that it can begin play by 2016. Beckham has the option of purchasing an expansion team at a discounted rate of $25 million, a deal that was worked out as part of his initial player contract with MLS back in 2007.
Beckham may be closer than ever to bringing an MLS club back to South Florida, where the Miami Fusion previously played until they were contracted in 2001, but the global icon is still reportedly trying to raise several hundred million dollars of investment to fund the setup costs.
Beckham’s long-time business partner Simon Fuller, who created the hit shot American Idol, is allegedly going be a significant shareholder. But Beckham is still trying to bring on board one or two more investors, with Bolivian billionaire Marcelo Claure expected to be one of them. Beckham and Claure took a tour of Miami together earlier this year.
Questions still remain as to where a Miami team could play, but the belief is that the franchise could start at an existing venue before building its own soccer-specific stadium.
MLS has made no secret of its desire to extend its national footprint to the southeast part of the United States, where the league currently has no teams. USL Pro club Orlando City recently received the green light for funding for a soccer-specific stadium, and are soon expected to be announced as one of four more expansion slots that MLS commissioner Don Garber said will be filled by the end of the decade to bring the league’s total to 24 teams.
Atlanta is another city that has been linked with landing an MLS franchise and recent images of the new Atlanta Falcons stadium set to open in 2017 have included photos and renderings of a soccer field made for the purpose of hosting MLS matches.
If Orlando, Miami and Atlanta all were to join MLS in a few years’ time (and Garber did recently say that three of the four expansion slots were already spoken for), the southeast would have instant rivalries and a three-way battle like the Cascadia Cup in the Pacific Northwest that includes the Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps.
What do you think of Beckham hoping to have a Miami franchise start play by 2016? Could you see a buzz being created in the southeast that would be similar to that of the Pacific Northwest if Miami, Orlando and Atlanta all joined within a few years’ time?
Share your thoughts below.