David Beckham is making positive progress in his attempt to establish a new team in Major League Soccer after Miami-Dade county commissioners voted unanimously in support of a new, privately funded stadium.
Former LA Galaxy midfielder Beckham, who retired at the end of last season after a stint with Paris Saint-Germain, has spoken of his excitement at the prospect of a new Miami franchise in the MLS and told the BBC last month: “We're almost there.”
On Tuesday, he moved a step closer as Miami mayor Carlos Gimenez got the vote from Miami-Dade county commissioners to identify potential sites for the new stadium and to negotiate construction contracts with developers. The resolution stipulates that the stadium be funded without county dollars and must pay rent if it ends up on public land, according to reports in the Miami Herald.
Gimenez said: “It gives a signal to Major League Soccer that we’re very interested in their coming here.”
MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement: “We greatly appreciate the support shown by the Miami-Dade County Commission and look forward to continuing to work with Mayor Gimenez, the Commission and David Beckham on finalising a plan for a new MLS stadium in Miami.”
A spokesman for Beckham told Reuters that the news was “a very positive step to bringing the world's most popular game to Miami” and that the 38-year-old’s investment group was “exploring various sites in downtown Miami.”
However, according to the Miami Herald report, there have been concerns raised about a proposal to build on county-owned land at PortMiami.
The newspaper said: “The group has identified the site, on the southwest corner of the seaport across from Bayside Marketplace, as its top choice. It is focusing on downtown Miami locations, citing MLS’ success in other cities drawing spectators to stadiums in urban centres near mass transit.”
The proposed PortMiami site, which is county-owned, is close to the Miami Heat’s basketball arena and Miami Beach hotel district, but county commission chairwoman Rebeca Sosa said: “I don't see the relationship of a soccer stadium with the big boats and the big cargo coming from Panama.”
Sosa urged Beckham, who has an option to acquire an MLS expansion franchise at a discounted rate of $25 million, to consider other sites.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber warned earlier this month: “We can't go to Miami without the right stadium solution. David understands that, the city understands that. That is an indisputable fact.”