Beckham continuing to explore Miami as potential site for MLS expansion team

David Beckham Marcelo Clauro Miami Heat (Reuters)

By FRANCO PANIZO

While most observers in the American soccer world had their attentions fixed on the U.S. Men’s National Team this past weekend, some intriguing news related to MLS expansion surfaced and it could potentially mean the return of MLS to Miami.

Two days after attending a Miami Heat playoffs game with Bolivian billionaire Marcelo Claure (pictured above, left), the recently-retired David Beckham continued to look into the possibility of bringing an MLS team to South Florida on Saturday. Beckham met with key political figures in Miami and even toured two stadiums, 20,000-seat FIU Stadium and 75,000-seat Sun Life Stadium, that could possibly serve as the home to a future MLS club in South Florida.

Beckham told reporters afterwards that the prospect of owning an MLS team in Miami was “exciting”. The contract he signed with MLS and the LA Galaxy back in 2007 came with an option to purchase an expansion franchise at a reduced price reported to be $25 million once he retired.

“I think bringing an MLS team here to South Florida would be… it’s exciting,” Beckham told CBS4 News television. ”I think Miami fans are very passionate about their sports and very passionate about winning and, of course, it would have to be (a) success but it’s definitely exciting.”

Beckham was accompanied on Saturday by Claure, the owner of Brightstar Communications who partnered with Spanish club FC Barcelona in 2009 for a Miami MLS expansion bid that ultimately failed. Claure remains interested in bringing an MLS team back to South Florida, where NASL club the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers play but where there has been no MLS team since the Miami Fusion were contracted in 2001.

Miami is believed to be one of many cities Beckham is considering as a potential site for an MLS team, though the former England international has yet to visit or publically mention any city besides Miami.

“We know that our community can support not only the international soccer (friendlies) that have been coming to Miami for a while now, but that it would support an MLS franchise,” executive director of the Miami-Dade Sports Commission Jose Sotolong told Reuters. ”The city of Miami has a very international fan base and a very soccer savvy fan base. This is the kind of ownership group that would electrify the community and hopefully we will get good news.”

Miami is not the only city in the Sunshine State currently hoping to land an MLS expansion team. USL Pro side Orlando City SC has been pushing hard in recent years to try and secure a franchise in the United States’ top soccer league, which will expand to 20 teams in 2015 with the addition of the recently-announced New York City FC.

MLS commissioner Don Garber recently named Florida as a place for possible expansion during his meetings with media following the NYCFC press conference in East Harlem. He has also previously pointed to rivalries like that in the Pacific Northwest being a big part of MLS’s success when talking about expansion in the south, which may indicate that both Miami and Orlando could get into the league at some point in the future.

Here’s a brief video of Beckham visiting FIU Stadium on Saturday.

—–

What do you think of Beckham exploring Miami as a potential destination for MLS expansion? Like the idea of a Beckham-backed team in Miami? Wishing he were checking out another city?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in Featured, Major League Soccer, MLS- Expansion. Bookmark the permalink.

69 Responses to Beckham continuing to explore Miami as potential site for MLS expansion team

  1. Vic says:

    Not sure Miami is a great location for an MLS team. It may be a great place to visit or live for Beckham but that doesnt mean there should be an MLS team. Would rather see Atlanta, St. Louis or Orlando. Beckham should partner with someone in those locations.

    • ed - houston says:

      I am with you, Miami has proven to be a great party place but not for sports.

      • Bumby Hemmingway says:

        Florida in general has always been good at obtaining expansion professional sports teams, but not very successful in supporting them.

        • ben godwin says:

          so true, but Orlando is doing very well supporting their USL team…they have everything going for them

          • Daniel says:

            Except the stadium situation.

            • anikan says:

              They have more of a stadium than NYCFC does.

            • ben godwin says:

              ehh not really if you saw the news this weekend. Orlando is going to do what it takes to get the stadium built just like Salt Lake did. They already have the land and now a funding plan is being expedited, plus, if Beckham were in the mix it would move that much faster.

  2. Old School says:

    “The contract he signed with MLS and the LA Galaxy back in 2006 came with an option to purchase an expansion franchise at a reduced price reported to be $25 million once he retired.”

    Considering the going rates for MLS franchises now, that is one hell of a deal. I don’t see how Beckham passes this opportunity, if nothing else, for the general investment purposes.

    However, for the love of everything holy DOOOOOOOOOOOON, either you have a damn stadium in place or you don’t have a place for MLS. I thought we moved passed that garbage and couldn’t care less what city it is.

    • downintexas says:

      Staduim is a must! It has to be.

      • beto says:

        the FIU stadium looks legit.. and has a number of proposed expansions; hopefully this includes a partial roof and grass..

        • Old School says:

          Not a fan of that.

          FIU would use that field for football (football lines then), pitch quality could become an issue from over-usage and you’re sharing revenue with the University.

          Unless they’re outright buying the property? Sorry if I missed that part if it was mentioned.

          • scott47a says:

            Claure is on FIU’s board of regents. If Beckham gets in bed with Claure I think some nice back-room deals will be struck.

            They already said they would be willing to spend the money to put in grass

            • Old School says:

              Again, my concern isn’t the grass.

              It’s the SSS…it needs to be owned by the club. That’s another way they and the league make revenue.

      • Mark says:

        I don’t really understand why the Marlins brand new stadium is not in consideration. Sure you’d be laying down sod on the infield a lot but it’s a brand new facility with a retractable roof (a must in South Florida in the summer). It’s also not too big that it would see cavernous with only 20,000 seats sold. The county could definitely use the revenue.

    • Carl says:

      +++++ 111111111

  3. downintexas says:

    I think with Becks star status, this could be a possible good thing. As long as they don’t hire Ruud Gullit as head coach.

  4. Scott e Dio93 says:

    Miami is terrible market, Miami is full footbal fans but not MLS fans. If they open MLS team in South Florida, then call it a “South Florida’s team”, unlike the Funsion being in Broward County and called itself “Miami” team and pissoff fans in Broward County. You need at least 5 or 6 DPs bring fans here, and only the Montreal’s Impact would be biggest draw here.

  5. Weston John says:

    Very exciting news…I would be a season ticket holder for sure. Done correctly, South Florida could be a very successful market. 4,000+ tix sold to the Strikers game on Saturday…international friendlies get HUGE attendance numbers. It would have to pull fans from Dade, Broward and Palm Beach. Plus it would need to establish a strong academy…tons of youth programs to pull from. Looking forward to hearing more about this one.

    • Miguel says:

      I agree!! It is obvious the nay sayers don’t live in South Florida.
      I would be a season ticket holder. If done right a Miami based team could be
      Just as big as any in MLS.

  6. beto says:

    i think a star-studed Miami could work while a typical MLS Orlando would also work.. i also wouldn’t mind seeing Beck move into the Galaxy ownership group.

    this however is Miami’s only shot! if they don’t have marquee big money names its not going to work.

    also to note:
    how does NASL take a MLS/Miami with Fort Lauderdale in the same metro area. First time a MLS expands into a NASL hood with out taking a francise from NASL.. I hope NASL goes for it a starts reciprocating by adding NASL team in some MLS markets! Boston?, Chicago?, Los Angeles?, San Fran?…

    • scott47a says:

      Ft. Lauderdale NASL = Traffic Group.
      I’m have to think the MLS would be more than happy to push those guys around a bit.

  7. Dave from Charlotte says:

    I’m trying to imagine any other realistic options. Beckam is rich, but he’s not billionaire rich though. Getting Claure in as a minority partner makes a lot of sense, but who else would go in with him elsewhere? Simon Fuller might if Beckam asked him, but not sure Simon wants to own an MLS franchise.

    Some bigwigs in San Antonio, but that doesn’t seem to suit Beckam’s style. I could see SA or St. Louis eventually getting a transplant/re-branded team like Chivas USA.

    Does Beckam know Arthur Blanke? I think he was interested in bringing a team to ATL, but I just don’t see that happening.

    I would guess its Miami or bust

    • bryan says:

      my guess is Barca is still involved at some level if Claure is involved. especially with NYCFC being announced and their connection to Man City.

      • scott47a says:

        The Barca connection died mostly when the guy interested in it left Barca – to become the CEO of Manchester City.

  8. @philschoen has been covering this topic for some time. I believe the consensus in South Florida is if the team was located in Miami it would be supported. Fans from Ft. Lauderdale would go to Miami. If it is located in Ft. Lauderdale, the Miami folks would not come up to Ft. Lauderdale.

    • Weston John says:

      Definitely issues arise when you call a team Miami and put them in Broward. Beckham is a master of creating and protecting an image; therefore, you would think he’d want the team to be associated with Miami and play in Dade. That said, Sun Life Stadium is 1 mile from the border of Broward county. FIU would be further south for Broward and Palm Beach residents, but still doable.

    • Scott e Dio93 says:

      Thank you for appointing that out, majority people don’t understand whole “South Florida” counties and communities.

      Impact would be huge draw here.

  9. ben godwin says:

    Miami, has the worst fans for any sports city- When the Buffalo Bills play in Miami there are just as many Bills fans as Dolphin Fans.

    That said:

    Miami could work, but done very carefully and one must realize that Miami is the capital of Latin America, there is no other city in Latin America more deserving of that title.

    Still, Orlando is also a world renowned city, and they already have everything going for them, even a stadium site and funding. Much better option in my opinion.

    • Scott e Dio93 says:

      Latin Americans in South Florida are usually Eurosnobs, they won’t follow no-name MLS teams, you have great chance to attract Canadians (or Quebecers) to MLS games.

      Orlando is full Brazilians and Venezuelans communities, but doesn’t mean they would pay and see MLS.

      • ben godwin says:

        You’re probably right about south florida, but Orlando already has a very healthy base of fans 8,000+ fans regularly at a 3rd tier game….you only have to be slightly successful to turn that into 18000-22000 in MLS. And, there are way more communities in ORlando than just those you mentioned. There are many Colombians, Mexicans and a huge one Carribbeans- specifically Trinidad and Jamaica well represented at the games already. There are also a lot of Brits living in Orlando

        The base is already there, that’s what really matters and Miami hasn’t proven they can do that yet.

  10. pgloerse says:

    I know Miami is a sexy market – but its looking more and more likely that Orlando will not be in the MLS period. That saddens me greatly as what Orlando is doing is impressive and in my opinion rivaling what Seattle and Portland were doing prior to being in MLS. As a native Floridian and one that completely understands and agrees that Floridians do not support sports team in general – I genuinely feel that Orlando SC is different. It’s 8K + fans at each game that are not bubba’s drinking beer. Its an intelligent, soccer savvy mix of 8-35 year olds that have little interest in ‘traditional sports powers.” Something special is brewing in Orlando and MLS would be wise to recognize and reward it.

    • Juest says:

      I agree with what you’re saying, but I’d put it a different way. Orlando doesn’t need any reward from MLS. Incorporating Orlando into MLS would be rewarding to both sides, although MLS doesn’t seem to understand that yet. MLS must continue to grow from the ground up, and as it does, the league will slowly gain support in popular culture and start getting much-needed TV coverage and ratings. And of course, the quality of the product on the field must also continue to improve.

      Maybe teams like Orlando can join and provide the grassroots support, while teams like NY2, and perhaps Miami, can join and provide a boost in talent. It would certainly be preferable if MLS could find both attributes at the same site, like Seattle and–to a lesser extent–Montreal and Portland have provided. But what remaining cities would be likely to bring that much to the table?

      • pgloerse says:

        Not knowing the organic nature of other markets it is hard to speculate – but it seems to be there in places like St. Louis, Charlotte and Minneapolis. The Tier 1 soccer hotbeds seem covered which leaves Tier 2 support to garner. At this point however, MLS seems to be looking more at the demographic numbers/tv ratings and trying to create what is already happening in those previously mentioned cities. No doubt in my mind that if everything about Orlando was the same except they had the 5th rated TV market they would be in MLS and NYC would not.

        Either way your point was well stated.

  11. Riggis says:

    I think everyone has overlooked the most important phrase in the entire article…”with Bolivian billionaire Marcelo Claure”…we’ve seen what deep pockets did to get NYCFC….the league surpassed better candidates (ie…Orlando in regards to stadium planning and most importantly a fan following) for arab money…who’s to say the Don wouldn’t do the same in Miami? It’s all about getting owners with the deepest pockets who hopefully will provide the highest quality product a city like Miami would need for success on and off the pitch.

  12. Creige says:

    When does the MLS ever make decisions for sporting reasons (e.g., Chivas USA, Galaxy trading Rogers for Magee, …)?

    • ed - houston says:

      The asnwer is always, what you pointed out are exceptions to the rule.

    • Ceez says:

      People need to lay off the Magee-Rogers trade. I’m not “defending” the way the league caters to LAG. I’m not defending any side but there was no catering here. I just think it’s important to note that that trade was done for personal reasons very important to EACH player. As far as trades go, it was probably the smoothest, most perfect trade I’ve seen in I don’t know how long. It was mutually agreed to by all parties involved, including the players. Let’s keep it moving, people!

      • Creige says:

        I think it reflects poorly on the sport when a team (that just lost 5-0) trades their top scorer for a below average winger for the sake of publicity. Rogers is a professional player and should be treated as such.

        • Ceez says:

          Let’s keep things in perspective. Below average wingers don’t come close to sniffing a senior national team spot (which Magee has never done). You’re one of those, eh? Just keep watching, kid.

    • Charles says:

      Ceez, People are just looking to rip on American soccer anytime they can. Almost always it is the Americans doing it too.

      I have been involved for almost 40 years. It never changes, you keeping thinking it will, but it doesn’t.

  13. Juest says:

    Ives, what percentage of moderated comments are deleted? It’s really quite infuriating to be blocked from interacting with the community in a seemingly random fashion. How well does it work on your end? Is there some list of words that we should avoid to steer clear of the automated system?

    • Old School says:

      Pa$$ing (minus the $’s) is one word that’s moderated because it has “a$$” in it, minus the $’s.

      I’m with you, and so is the majority. The moderation filter is ridiculous, kills conversation and makes people not want to post.

      Not hating on Ives but this issue has been requested to evolve or be removed for quite awhile.

  14. bryan says:

    i’m not sure where Barca remain in Claure’s mind, but i’ll tell you what…a team owned by Beckham/Barca/Claure could be exciting…even in an awful market like Miami. like the Heat, they would have to buy a team to get people there though.

    curious to see who this plays out.

    • Nic D "The TX 2 Stepper" says:

      Same goes for ATL. People will come out for a winner or even for the potential that a STAR STUDDED team brings.

      I want to see southern expansion. MIA 2015 and O-Town 2016 and ATL 2017

      Let’s get it cracking down south!

  15. The Imperative Voice says:

    Personally, I think it was shabby that he retired a Parisian and not from the Galaxy, and they didn’t even do him the solid of playing him the last game so they could make a big deal of a sub in/out.

    I think Florida currently has stadium-fatigue, their house just rejected a bill, and this feels like a team that will need a well-located playpen to be successful. When the team was at Lockhart it was barely pulling better numbers than what people are chasing Chivas with pitchforks about.

    Also, Beckham made his home in LA so if you’re leveraging the Cult of Personality then it becomes important whether Miami cares. Beckham may have an inherent level of presence but he probably wouldn’t be any more of a Miami fixture than his own new team. He’s going to be the face for some ownership group that people may or may not care about. Miami has had a few failed professional soccer teams, I don’t think this succeeds on image alone.

    But, I see this getting some traction with the league because with 2 LA teams and 2 NY teams, you’re running out of suitable homes for Beckham, and they apparently set this up where they more or less owe him one. Beckham does have kind of a Miami feel and they could set up the team in South Beach and play in half-shirts.

  16. K says:

    so how many teams are going to be in our div 1? more than 20? That’s ridiculous

    • Ceez says:

      I’m no pundit but I’ve been getting a feeling for years now that MLS will split into two different leagues — maybe even have 20 teams in EACH league! (*gasp*). It’s just a thought people, relax.

      There is FIFA’s mandate to consider. FIFA wants no more than 20 teams in any professional league. MLS is going to expand well beyond 20 but to how many, I have no clue. If the league continues to expand more and more, I see only two options as being feasible:

      1) continue with one league with a bunch of teams like the NBA, NHL, and NFL (to a certain extent), or

      2) split the league into two separate leagues (e.g. MLB), MAYBE each having 20 teams which appeases FIFA’s concern, and then decide the champ in a similar post-season setup than the one currently in place where the champ of each league plays each other in a final.

      I agree that more than 20 teams is a bit out there but that’s where the league is headed apparently. The country is too big for just 20. But how many it can actually support is still to be determined…

      • bml says:

        I think it makes sense, but it’s a ways off. The long distance travel doesn’t help the teams or the fans.

    • Jerrod says:

      Why? It’s a pretty big country.

    • Charles says:

      Ummm, no less than 20 would be rediculous.

      Population in Europe around 700 million. How many first division teams do they have ? More than you can probably figure out without looking it up.

      Population of US 310 million, so we should have about half of Europes. I will settle for 40-50 and be happy for now.

      • K says:

        it’s called promotion/relegation. Do some homework on how the sport is played around the globe.

    • Dave from Charlotte says:

      Beckam’s franchise makes 21. So you figure Orlando to round it out and have a balanced schedule unless someone comes in from like SA, STL, ATL, or Minnesota to pip the 2nd spot. I would guess 22 is it for at least 5 years after with a max of 24 teams by 2025.

  17. bring nasl to el paso,tx says:

    MLS can easily handle 24, 26, or 28 teams but no more than 28, and it has to be an even number so each conference has the same amount of teams. NASL can do 15 to 20 teams easily and USL Pro can do the same amount around 15. As for the relegation and promotion pundits, we gotta wait about 10 years, like when usa gets 2026 world cup. The problem is that the east of united states has a buffet of cities to pick from but not the west and MLS is not a big fan of the mid states or untap cities like tulsa, omaha,okc,austin, el paso tx, albuquerque and others but at the end if the day, i see big market teams like chicago and dallas partnering with soccer foreign billionaires just like nyc2 did it.

    • Charles says:

      Pro/Rel will happen ten years from now, with now rolling out to forever.

      Pretty sure MLS is a big fan of KC in middle American. It will be of St Louis too.

      • Ceez says:

        I disagree wholeheartedly. Pro/Rel will not happen ten years from now, post-statement disclaimer or not. AT THE EARLIEST, assuming all conditions line up absolutely perfectly, pro/rel will happen in 30 years, +/- 5 years. If it doesn’t, then anyone aged 30 and up at the time of this posting will not live to see pro/rel happen in the US.

        Firstly, you need to greatly influence and change the soccer culture here in this country. The league has been around since 1996 and look at where we are at this point in our development. It can not be debated that the popularity of the league is increasing every year. Signs of progress, of course, but I wouldn’t call it a change in culture. I’ll call it a change in culture when I see the MLS topple either the NFL or MLB in terms of popularity. I’m not so worried about the NHL, the NBA, or any other sports league here (including ultimate frisbee, rugby, volleyball, etc etc).

        Secondly, and this is the biggest obstacle, you need to get EVERY OWNER of the MLS to agree to the pro/rel system. We’re talking about millionaire and billionaire owners who have invested more money than every past and present SBI poster’s yearly gross income, combined. Obviously, I have no numbers to back that up but I wouldn’t be surprised if that was true. We’re talking about A LOT of investment. And we’re talking about convincing these investors, some who own franchises who have yet to be profitable, to play at a lower level than they bought into. If anyone has a master plan to make that happen, color me impressed. I’d certainly want you as commish.

        So yeah, a pretty long-winded way of saying NOT HAPPENIN’ BRUH!

        …at least not in our lifetimes.

        • byob el paso tx says:

          Well, promotion and relegation in MLS has to be different and unique, due to the league owners who dont want to lose money and their team identity.
          So maybe in 2026, or in 10 to 13 years, MLS can adapt a simple promotion-relegation system, that can change MLS forever.
          -For example, 2 MLS teams with the lowest points from 1 or 2 seasons, would go into a home away series from NASL 2 teams who made the most points or the 2 teams who won the NASL.
          - So it would be a home and away series,
          MLS vs NASL most points or Champion &
          MLS vs NASL most points or Champion.
          and the way teams are set up in the series, is by the amount of points a team has, like a single table but MLS vs NASL.
          -Next, if both NASL teams win, well then both are promoted and so on……but the promotion and relegation only lasts for ONE season, in order to help MLS owners and league, while the league gets more stable for a longer promotion and relegation system.
          -Therefore, the teams that were promoted and relegated, (could be 1 or 2 teams) have one season to be promoted and relegated once again.
          -How? simple. For example, if both MLS teams are relegated and both NASL teams are promoted, then those 4 teams are still in a battle, in which any 2 teams who make the most points from the 4 who were involved in the promotion-relegation series, will stay in MLS or if your are in NASL, then you will be promoted.
          - So if both MLS teams are relegated and make more points than the ones promoted, then they are up.

  18. bring nasl to el paso,tx says:

    Oh and i forgot, when MLS reaches 24 or 26 teams, why no go for the fifa international calendar. The more sunny warm markets mls has, might as well go it.

  19. andrew says:

    I dont want to see a team in Miami because Miami is not a good sports city. Heat fans show up late and leave early, and they didn’t get much support before LeBron came. No one goes to Marlins games. The successful MLS teams (Seattle, Portland, LA Galaxy, Kansas City, etc.) come from cities where the other major sports teams (Seahawks, Trail Blazers, Lakers, Chiefs) get a ton of fan support. That’s just not the case in Miami. Plus the MLS already failed there. I’d much rather see a team in St. Louis. Its a good sports city that is also a soccer hotbed (many good players like Twellman are from there), and it would have natural rivalries with Chicago and Kansas City.

    • bml says:

      Miami has more long term potential. Bigger market, better location (to Europe and South America), better weather, latin influence and players actually want to live there.

      Beckham doesn’t want to make another Columbus Crew or KC, he wants a high profile LA Galaxy or NY Redbull franchise. Do you think CR7 would ever come play in St Louis? It’s hard enough getting top DPs to go to LA or NY.

      • andrew says:

        You’re right, I don’t really see beckham owning a St. Louis team. Not enough glamour there. I do think a St. Louis team would be better for the MLS than a Miami team right now though.

  20. Bob says:

    First sentence says it all. While most soccer fans were focused on the USMNT and USWNT games, Miami was focused on Beckham. Even during the recent US Open Cup game in Ft. Lauderdale between the Strikers and FC Dallas, the ONLY soccer-related social media discussion from south FL was about Beckham, despite the fact that they had an MLS team playing in their backyard. There are no soccer fans in Miami, only trends and fads. Take a look at the Marlins games. No one attends them. Beckham is all the rage in Miami now, but the team will end up just like the Miami Fusion – no support! Beckham can invest in any team (other than LA and NY). He should invest in Orlando or Atlanta, and visit South Beach whenever he wants to go to a good party.

  21. Jon says:

    I think everyone is missing the point here. I’m sure that St. Louis would provide a much more loyal fan base that could rival the Sounders. The reason it’s not even being considered and Miami is being pushed is because of the location. High profile players do not want to live in middle America. They want high profile cities where they can expand their brand. Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh both stated that if the Cleveland Cavaliers had the cap space to sign them to join Lebron James they wouldn’t have signed soley because of the location. That’s why they’re in Miami together and that’s why if Becks chooses Miami he will be able to attract big name stars with his brand and the aura of “South Beach”.
    As a native of Miami I will be the first to admit that loyalty is hard to come by. That is why I think it is best to place the team in FIU’s stadium. The students alone will pack the stadium. I see more soccer jerseys around campus than I do any other sport. Miami ranks #1 when it comes to viewership during the World Cup and European leagues in the country. The love for the game is there. .
    Big stars will attract the fans and you need location to attract big stars. Beckham knows this and that why his focus is in Miami.

  22. Angel says:

    Boca is teaming up with Claure and beckham to get mls in Miami, I’m guessing it can attract a lot of Latinos. Orlando City said that if they go to MLS, they will sign Kaka I think it will attract a lot of Brazilian fans.