By DAN KARELL
Major League Soccer is officially returning to South Florida.
The league announced on Wednesday morning that David Beckham has exercised his option to buy into MLS as an investor-operator and that Beckham has chosen Miami to be the site of an MLS expansion franchise. Beckham and his ownership group are now tasked with working with local officials to build a soccer-specific stadium in downtown Miami.
“From the beginning of my career in England to today in Miami, my journey has always been driven by my incredible passion for the game,” Beckham said in a statement. “Miami is a vibrant, diverse community that thrives on the same type of energy that fuels the international appeal of soccer, and I look forward to a dedicated, long-term partnership with this dynamic city and MLS.
“My experience with the Galaxy is what convinced me that I wanted to one day own an MLS team and it is thrilling to now see that dream coming true.”
It’s the first time since 2001 that MLS will be back in Miami, after the league contracted the Miami Fusion following a four-year stay. The league has in the past cited changing demographics as reasons why they believe that Miami can work as an MLS city this time around.
After announcing an expansion franchise in New York (New York City FC) in May 2013, MLS turned their gaze towards the Southeastern United States, where they are looking to gain a foothold in the region. The league approved Orlando as an expansion franchise along with NYC FC in 2015 and now is bringing soccer back to Miami by the year 2020, pending the completion of their stadium.
“We appreciate all that David has done as a player, an ambassador and as a global icon to help grow Major League Soccer,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement. “We are thrilled that he will be an owner, and we look forward to him helping us achieve our goal of being one of the top soccer leagues in the world.”
Beckham and his management group are currently in talks with Miami-Dade County officials to select a site for a future soccer stadium. Beckham’s group’s preferred site is a piece of county-owned land on the southwest portion of the Port of Miami.
What do you think of this news? Excited to see MLS return to Miami? Do you see Beckham’s group building a stadium at PortMiami? Do you think a soccer club in Miami can be successful in the league?
Share your thoughts below.