David Beckham has apparently decided on Miami as the future home of his new Major League Soccer franchise, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.
Citing an unnamed source, the AP said details were still being finalized before an official announcement was made.
“We know that Miami is one of the most passionate soccer markets in North America,” MLS vice president Dan Courtemanche told the news service. “We have met with David Beckham regarding ownership of an expansion team, and we look forward to David one day owning an MLS club.”
When Beckham ditched Europe to play for the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007, part of his contract included discount ownership fees on a future franchise.
That clause has kicked into high gear now that he’s retired from playing.
Becks had apparently toured several markets before landing in Miami ahead of a competing bid. He visited South Florida venues earlier this year.
“Bringing an MLS team here to South Florida would be exciting,” Beckham told CBS News in June. “I think Miami fans are very passionate about the sport and about winning and of course, it would have to be success but it’s definitely exciting.”
The former England international and London 2010 Olympic figurehead is getting a foot in the door ahead of two competing bids.
The Miami Herald reported that Stephen Ross, owner of the city’s NFL Dolphins, and a London-based group headed by Italian financier Alessandro Butini were also interested in expanding into Miami.
Butini went as far as compiling an all-star investor team, creating a website – Mia4mls.com – and pitching Miami School of Architecture students in creating designs for a soccer-specific stadium.
Where the team will play home games is still undecided. South Florida has numerous American football stadiums, but MLS is hoping the team can finance a soccer-specific, 20,000-seat venue, something that doesn't exist in Miami.
Beckham, however, always had an inside track thanks to his sweet ownership deal, reportedly $25 million for the expansion fee.
To put that in perspective, the New York Yankees and Manchester City combined efforts to purchase a second MLS franchise for New York City for $100 million.
NYCFC is expected to begin play in 2015, bringing the total number of teams to 20. The league has said it wants a 24-team league by 2020.
Beckham’s club wouldn’t be the first foray into Florida.
Lagging attendance sank both the Miami Fusion and Tampa Bay Mutiny after the 2001 season.
The league has stabilized since then, however.
The MLS has expanded into Canada with the Vancouver Whitecaps and Montreal Impact and enjoys tremendous success with the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders, two other recent additions.