Report: Beckham hoping to start Miami MLS franchise by 2016

David Beckham of Paris St Germain adjusts his tie in the Directors' Box

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.

Until now.

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.

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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.

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98 Responses to Report: Beckham hoping to start Miami MLS franchise by 2016

  1. Chicago Josh says:

    Miami is a flaky sports town. The “Fort Lauderdale Fusion” were a bust with a winning team. I am skeptical, but at the same time wish Goldenballs good luck. A southern derby and another warm weather team would be good for MLS.

  2. Scott A says:

    What is with Don Garber’s new fixation with rushing new teams in before they have a stadium plan? You only get one chance at a first impression.

    • JRP says:

      What a lame argument. How many teams had a soccer specific stadium before entering the league? Not very many.

      • Kanuk says:

        Go suck chalk

      • Scott A says:

        If you were capable of reading, you would have seen that I wrote “stadium plan”, not “stadium”. To answer your question, in the early days? Nobody. We should have moved past that to better models now that we have the ability to take our time and be picky. And we did for a while. When Montreal, Toronto, Philadelphia, Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver were announced they all, at minimum, had land bought, equipment on the way, etc. Man City USA and potentially Miami? Announced and not even a site picked out. When Where’s the “argument”? Don’t blame me because you don’t have a grasp of facts.

        • Scott A says:

          To add on, my point about making first impressions was about starting the inaugural season or more in temporary venue instead of waiting a year. And that’s a fun new thing too, with Montreal, Philly, and Man City USA doing it.

        • dcpohl says:

          Oh the days when soccer conversations were full of an intellectual and respectful nature. We’ve fallen so far and this is just the beginning.

    • indy says:

      It’s all about tv contracts now, stadiums have taken a backseat. The league needs the tv revenue created by adding larger markets.

      • Larry says:

        you don’t get TV viewers by adding the largest “markets”. You get TV viewers by putting quality on the pitch. MLS lowers their quality all in the name of fairness and then wonders why no one watches the league on TV.

  3. slowleftarm says:

    So the three new southeast teams will just like Cascadia except no one will come to the games. Actually, that’s unfair to Orlando – they should be in but the other two? No way.

    • FRANK FROM SANTIAGO says:

      I’ll be damned, you must own a crystal ball…may I please have the winning lottery numbers.

      jack a s s…..

      • Troy says:

        He must be from Seattle.

        • Shawn says:

          I must admit my skepticism of the Atlanta bid, at a minimum. That’s always been a frontrunning city. The Braves couldn’t sell out NLCS games in their heyday when Turner Field was brand new. I don’t see how MLS is going to succeed playing second fiddle in an NFL stadium–which will be there permanent facility–when the NFL team isn’t exactly renowned for thick-or-thin fan support.

          And then there’s the Hawks. Decades of empty buildings behind them.

          • Baropbop says:

            Exactly the point. It’s about TV deals and advertising markets. If filling seats are what mattered you would see teams in St Louis, raleigh/Charlotte, Indianapolis, Birmingham, etc. Filling seats isn’t the priority.

            Also do you realize how far it is from Miami to Atlanta? Hardly a Derby. Columbus is closer to Atlanta then Miami

            • Baropbop says:

              Also fully expect Orlando to have better attendance then Miami… But Miami’s Jersey sponsor deal will be close to a year of attendance in Orlando

            • RB says:

              “Also do you realize how far it is from Miami to Atlanta? Hardly a Derby. Columbus is closer to Atlanta then Miami.”

              The point is not the distance but being in the same recognized region. It’s the better part of 600 miles between Denver and SLC, too — not much shorter than the distance between Atlanta and Miami — but they’re both in the mountains region and the rivalry is there. Why shouldn’t it be the same for Atlanta and their 2 regional counterparts?

              • BamaMan says:

                No one in the South considers Miami part of the region. Miami doesn’t consider themselves part of the South. This distance doesn’t breed animus – just a lack of interest. Miami will have bigger rivalries with Philly and New York than they do with Atlanta. An Atlanta franchise will not have any natural rivals in MLS.

              • RB says:

                Well then unfortunately for them, everyone else in the country recognizes that they are in the same region. SLC and Denver were also not “natural” arrivals prior to teams being in each city. Now they are rivals. Same thing can certainly happen here.

      • dcpohl says:

        I also want lotto numbers, if it isn’t too much trouble.

    • BamaMan says:

      No one in Atlanta gives a hoot about Orlando or Miami. Maybe Orlando and Miami will have a minor rivalry but even about that I’m doubtful. Miami will have a much stronger rivalry with Philly and the Red Bulls if I had to guess.

    • Jamal says:

      And all of the fans will be fat.

  4. RB says:

    Ives has said he consider Atlanta the most likely candidate for a team, but _3_ teams in the southeast, suddenly?

    • Tony in Quakeland says:

      National footprint = Stronger National Televison Contracts.

      That’s what’s driving it. Can’t say it doesn’t make sense

      • RB says:

        I don’t begrudge the people of the SE in terms of getting some MLS representation there. And I don’t assume that because it didn’t work before, it won’t work now, either. I’m just a little surprised if in fact as many as 3 new teams are all going to be put in the same region at the same time. Seems risky — or at least more challenging or something — to suddenly just put all your expansion eggs in one basket, geographically…

  5. Maykol says:

    I wish Vegas had a team. People love soccer here

    • beto says:

      i doubt any league would place a permanent team in LV but if there was a quality stadium there there would be NFL Superbowl’s & Probowls, MLS Cups & Allstar Games, USMNT & El Tri games, NCAA bowl games, etc there every year!

      After seeing what people in that town have built already, a high quality stadium would be nothing..

    • Karim says:

      I grew up in Vegas and spent several years playing in adult rec leagues there, and I’m just not sure this is true. I remember when the CONCACAF club championship (then run as a tournament rather than as ‘league’) was held in town and the stadium (Sam Boyd) was completely deserted for all games, even the final between Necaxa and Saprissa, despite the strong Latino presence in Vegas. And heck I used to go to UNLV soccer games and I was literally the only person not related to, or dating, a player in attendance. Plus Vegas is such a transient town (with a long history of busted sports franchises) that there just isn’t that fervent base of fans who root for the home team. Everybody is rooting for the team back from where ever they’re transplanted from. So all this to say I disagree, Vegas would not be a good location for a franchise

  6. byob el paso tx says:

    Nycfc comes in 2015 right.
    Orlando and miami are in 2016, n that makes 22 teams.
    Atlanta in 2017.
    San antonio, detroit, sacramento, cosmos, start calling garber n send him chocolates.
    But if mls goes for 3 east teams n 1west, so what happens to the west. I guess skc joins west.
    But mls is going for 26 or 28 teams.

  7. bryan says:

    sweet, with the right group, Miami can absolutely be successful. looking forward to seeing how it plays out.

  8. UMF89 says:

    Other than college football FLA is a tough draw. My sister lives in Orlando and I am not sure I would enjoy seeing a game in August in that kind of heat (even if it was the World Cup final) But I guess the folks for Qatar or FIFA can come over and check out what it like to play in a furance. That said, imagine the DPs Beckham will be able to attract…..The old NY Cosmos South Beach Addition?????

  9. Bac says:

    I love soccer.
    I live in South Florida.
    I would love to support a team owned by David Beckham.
    But I’m sorry to say that any sports team down here will fail. SoFla fans are too fickle, lazy, and don’t like to go out in the heat.
    With the exception of the Dolphins, no other franchise has had staying power. The Heat only recently when they’ve bought talent.
    The Marlins? Panthers? Can’t give tix away
    Believe me, The mighty “U” once ruled college football.. and once they weren’t competitive people disappeared on them… I mean that’s sacrilegious in the south when it comes to college football.

    I hate to say it but this is a market MLS should avoid

    • Baropbop says:

      Completely agree.
      They will be able to draw the fans that came out once or twice just to see Beckham, but I would be absolutely shocked if they supported a team that even bordered on mediocrity. Best case scenario they acknowledge how fickle Miami can be and spend HUGE on designated players.
      Also should be said that north Florida will support Orlando and Atlanta before they ever support Miami.

  10. BrianK says:

    I’m ready,…got my thong and ready to turn out to support the Miami Metrosexuals!!!

  11. bottlcaps says:

    It’s all about the $$. Of the top ten population markets (as per the US Census SMA), only Atlanta and Miami do not have an MLS team.

    Putting teams in those markets is almost a necessity for present and future television rights packages.

    Here’s how it shapes up:

    City
    New York/New Jesey SMA

  12. bb says:

    Ives, what kind of traffic comes from the San Francisco area? They already have 49er’s, Raiders, Giants. I always kind of thought that San Fran would be a good place for a soccer team. Maybe cause of the whole, “San Francisco is the most European city in the U.S.” I wonder if there’s any rich owners in the SF area.

    • Good Jeremy says:

      San Jose isn’t too far away and the cost of building a stadium in San Fran is steep enough that the 49ers just built their new stadium in San Jose anyways.

    • Karim says:

      I think Jeremy is right. I live in Palo Alto (but work in SF) and think the Earthquakes pretty much have the Bay Area tapped out. If a team could get a deal to play in Giants stadium (where they occasionally host those vanity exhibition games by European clubs) then maybe they could tap into an ultra-urban crowd that wouldn’t go down to SJ for the ‘quakes. Of course that’s not an option, and there just aren’t other good locations in the city where there is available land and viable transportation options.

  13. TC says:

    I have to agree with Bac. I’m a Floridian. I love soccer and many in Florida grow up playing it (as I did). But Florida is a football state. Plain and simple. The Miami area especially. The Marlins won two world series and people barely remember. I already think this Orlando team is a bad idea and anything in Miami is going to be a total bust.

    • LoSoccer says:

      You’re an idiot. Orlando a bad idea? Have you been sleeping for the past year?

    • Larry says:

      well this is what happens when you don’t have a promotion/relegation system like the rest of the world has. You have people deciding where to put “franchises” instead of clubs earning their spot in the top division.

      • go euro or go home says:

        and how would a team just “earn” its way into the first division?

        well, you would have to become a team with financial backing in the first place. then you would have to actually progress to the first division.

        the franchise idea makes a lot more sense to me considering this is a growing and still adolescent league and also considering the financial situation much of the country is in

  14. bottlcaps says:

    t’s all about the $$. Of the top ten population markets (as per the US Census SMA), only Atlanta and Miami do not have an MLS team.

    Putting teams in those markets is almost a necessity for present and future television rights packages.

    Here’s how it shapes up:

    I am excluding Vancouver/Montral/Toronto and Canadian Cities until I dig up some more stats.

    City SMA Rank Pop. (mil) Team(s)

    New York/New Jesey 1 19 NYRB/FCNY/(Cosmos?)
    LA/Long Beach/OC 2 13 LA Galaxy/ChivasUSA
    Chicago 3 9 Fire
    Dallas 4 6 FC Dalas
    Houston 5 6 FC Houston
    Philadelphia 6 6 Phi Union
    Wash D.C. 7 5.8 DC United
    Miami 8 5.5 (Beckhams expansion team)
    Atlanta 9 5.4 (Atlanta Falcon’s expansion team)
    Boston 10 4.6 NE Revolution
    San Francisco 11 4.5 ****San Jose
    Riverside/San B/Ontario 12 4.2 ****LA Galaxy
    Phoenix 13 4.2 none
    Detroit 14 4.2 none
    Seattle 15 3.4 Sounders
    SMA’s 16-20 NO MLS Teams
    Denver 21 2.5 Rapids
    Portland 24 2.2 Timbers
    Orlando 26 2.2 Orlando Expansion
    Kansas City 30 2.0 Sporting KC
    Las Vegas 31 2.0 None
    Columbus 32 1.9 Columbus Crew
    Indianapolis 33 1.9 None
    San Jose 34 1.9 ###excludes SF SMA
    Real Salt Lake 50 1.1 ##Exludes Orem SMA

  15. Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

    Heck ya…..Don’t stop til you get to at least 30-40 MLS !
    There are still plenty of markets left.

  16. steve says:

    this will be great for securing national tv contracts for mls but will NEVER rival cascadia. high school football is more popular in this region. but i am sure there are enough fans to make the teams profitable

  17. 4now says:

    WASHINGTON, DC, September 3, 2013 (ENS) – The World Bank has crunched the numbers and the results are in. Five of the world’s 10 cities most at risk of flooding as climate change causes sea levels to rise are in the United States.

    In terms of the overall cost of damages, they are: Miami, which is at greatest risk, followed by New York, New Orleans, Tampa and Boston.

  18. Larry says:

    the franchise system will not work with soccer. MLS is already seeing declines in attendance(and the TV audience is non-existent). Soccer fans in the U.S want what other soccer fans have around the world which is genuine real soccer clubs to support, not these plastic franchises.

    • John O'Donnell says:

      Get a grip Larry, we DON’T want that at all. I love the U and what the hell is a genuine Club? Just some made up bull you believe in.

      • Larry says:

        a club is an independent team that plays under an association. With the MLS franchise system you have teams that are all owned by the league.

        there are a lot of differences between clubs and franchises. Google them.

        • Oculus says:

          In today’s modern game, the difference between clubs and franchises no longer exist. Since the club has become a mini corporation itself. Your argument that TV ratings reflect the way “soccer” fans feel towards the league is also wrong, why? because MLS TV ratings have more to do with lack of time slots & not being in other large metropolitan area’s, then soccer fans not liking the league. Which is why you are seeing MLS expanding to the southeast. Also MLS attendance remains top ten in the world of soccer.

          • bryan says:

            spot on. the attendance comment makes no sense. ignoring Chivas USA, MLS would have set a new record with over 19,100 average. and NBC Sports wouldn’t have invested what they have if TV rating were going down. they still are bad but they are better.

        • Oculus says:

          Let me give you an example. If I was a casual fan and wanted to watch a NBA game, I know TNT has games ON Tuesday & Thursday, at 8 & 10 PM. As well games being on 1 & 3 PM on ABC, on Sundays. If I was a casual fan and wanted to watch a NFL game, I know Monday Night Football, is on ESPN and Sunday day games are on FOX & CBS. While the Sunday night games is on NBC. This is MLS problem, while hardcore fans can find a game, MLS misses are on the casual fan. This is also why P/R will never work in the US, while some of the hardcore fans may love it(me not being one), they casual fan will not. The US sports landscape makes its money on casual fans, not hardcore fans.

          • Oculus says:

            out, not are sorry.

          • Coco says:

            Casual fans don’t like pro rel? Where did u come up with this crap?

            • Oculus says:

              Do you know what a casual fan is?

            • go euro or go home says:

              do you understand the instability of promotion/relegation? mls is not far along enough in its growth to gamble on that instability. there is a very methodical way that mls is growing and to institute pro/rel would ignore all of that and basically just be saying, “to hell with it. lets just see what happens.”

              i think the more sensible option is to continue growing the league with a purpose from an expansion standpoint and continue growing the quality on the field. i would imagine that focus on quality is next — this means bigger budgets for the teams.

              throwing things to pro/rel would be reckless and dangerous for the stability of the league. the league is thriving now. why put that to risk by throwing the plan out the window?

              • Ted in MN says:

                Exactly. It would scare away investment in the game from top to bottom. Less stadium money, less fans, less jersey sales, less marketability for half the teams, and on and on and on.
                It works in countries where all you’re competing with realistically is other soccer teams, but let’s be realistic here.

    • Bobb says:

      Hah, MLS is already seeing “declines in attendance”! As in, down 199, which can be attributed ENTIRELY to Chivas USA, as in without their 40% decline, there is no decline. Nice try, though!

      • bryan says:

        exactly. without their decline (e.g. taking 2012 Chivas USA numbers), MLS would have set a new record by 39. ignoring Chivas altogether, MLS average is up to over 19,100.

  19. Weston John says:

    We’re ready for MLS in Miami…future season ticket holder here!

  20. Stinnsy says:

    Where would you rather play, Miami or Orlando? That’s an easy one. There will be so many disappointed players in Orlando looking for a way out.

  21. Clyde Frog says:

    Not sure what the comment about how the Georgia/Florida teams “will” have a rivalry like the Cascadia teams. Is there an existing civic rivalry among these 3 cities like in the NW? I really don’t think so.

    And pet peeve alert!!! The Miami Fusion were not contracted. They were eliminated. The LEAGUE contracted.

  22. Rey Pygsterio says:

    A lot of people posting in this thread completely ignorant of the area. Here are some facts.

    1) Miami, Orlando, and Atlanta are all relatively bad sports towns when it comes to attendance. There are too many other things to do in Miami and Orlando for sports to compete and win. Not sure what Atlanta’s problem is, but people don’t show up unless it is a WCW Monday Nitro.

    2) Rivalry among these three? Terrible idea and not going to happen. Miami and Orlando might get it going, but leave Atlanta out of it. Like other people said, Atlanta is in the real South and has nothing to do with east coast Miami or tourist city Orlando.

    3) You can laugh at the cliche but it is true — it is not the heat in Orlando, it is the humidity. Dallas is a lot hotter. The real problem for Miami and Orlando is the constant rain with the high humidity. This is why you have no one showing up for Marlins games and Tampa playing in a dome.

    4) I’m all for all three of these cities getting an MLS team, but if we are going to talk about which city really deserves one because it will support it, then we are talking about St. Louis.

    5) Also, it would be good for MLS to have such a worldwide brand as the Cosmos to bring credibility and attention to the league around the world.

  23. The Imperative Voice says:

    Style over substance. Given the last Miami try I think they need concrete infrastructural concepts in place, ie, a stadium, as well as an idea that fans are more interested this time. They had an insanely good team at the end that was poorly attended.

  24. Todd C says:

    Just putting franchise’s in markets won’t create a rivalry. Besides the Orlando supporters, that are already there, anybody in Atlanta and Miami that becomes a fan of the team will be a new fan. You can’t create history or rivalry with some marketing and what I’m assuming will be mediocre product on the field. American soccer fans aren’t dumb. They expect quality over a “brand” and have plenty of options around the world besides the MLS. Until the quality of players and scheduling are improved expansion is reckless and won’t work out well for anybody involved. Time will tell but rushing things certainly won’t help anybody besides a small few temporarily line their pockets. Over expansion, especially to Florida and the southeast is detrimental to the league. History has repeatedly shown that even perennial contenders in the MLB & NBA struggle to have a solid fan base. MLS is naive to think they are immune from the southeast professional sports apathy. Don’t. Do. It.

  25. Norniron says:

    I’m a little baffled by this choice, as Miami had the opportunity for an MLS team and it folded. Having said that, with Beckham behind it, it could do better, but that’s no guarantee. This on the surface seems an ill-advised choice for MLS. However, the decision looks final, so we’ll see…

    As well, I am SO tired of hearing about Atlanta as an MLS option. Georgia is a football/baseball state folks, and having said that, the Falcons still rank 13 out of 32 NFL teams in attendance and the Braves rank 13 out of 30 MLB teams in attendance. The Hawks rank 26 out of 30 in NBA attendance. I would venture to guess that if you polled Atlanta citizens, you would find a very luke warm interest in an MLS team. And on a weekend in the fall, if the choice on TV is between an MLS game and The University of Georgia football game, I think most people would concede what the decision would be…fuutbaawwl, NOT futbol.

  26. GJJ says:

    I moved to Houston from Chicago in 1995 with about 300 co-workers from Chicago. A few months after we arrived, the Bears were playing the Oilers so we decided to go to a sports bar and watch the game. We expected a ton of Oilers fans, but when we got there we almost had the place to ourselves. We asked a few locals and they basically told us that the weather was still good for jet-skiiing, etc and that’s what people were doing. There’s a lesson in there for any team that plays in a sunbelt city with lots of things to do when the game is on.

  27. Northzax says:

    I’m ok with three-four new teams by 2020, but the most valuable commodity just became international roster slots. Let’s assume MLS adds 24 new international spots for the three teams (nyc2, Miami, Orlando) and each team signs 28 players, including 3 dps and a young dp (who are all, I trust, exempt) that leaves 17 spots on each team for domestic players. This is nothing but good, that’s 52 more Americans (or green card holders, sure) playing pro soccer) but does anyone really think there are 52 MLS quality Americans who want to play in the us who aren’t already? That’ a big talent gap to fill.

  28. Ted in MN says:

    Miami had the single worst average attendance in MLS history before its collapse, has an awful history of supporting sports teams even at the best of times, had the worst attendance by percentage of stadium size in the NFL last year and has seen the stadium well necessary for future redevelopment poisoned by Jeffrey Loria. Even the TV market is remarkably fickle.

    Beckham might be able to draw on his own, but having the big name attached to development is not where the MLS has had its best recent successes. I really don’t think Beckham know’s anything about how American sports markets work beyond the cache Miami has to foreign eyes. The economy was hit harder there by the recession than just about any place not named Detroit and, while I appreciate the size of the market is a bonus in and of itself, that hasn’t helped Chicago or NYRB against Seattle.

    We’re at a critical point where choosing the correct markets and owners is important and I’m worried that Beckham is picking Miami because he thinks its Miami as opposed to someplace less sexy but more likely to support a team as in St. Louis, Pittsburgh, the Twin Cities, San Diego, San Antonio, or the Bay Area (not San Jose).

  29. Ted in MN says:

    In all fairness to Miami now, the KC Wiz were worst in attendance 8 times in the first 12 years of MLS. What it really takes in any market is an interested owner who can work the system and fans into having casual support and then developing a firm base of supporters. When the new ownership came in with an actual plan for KC, things started to work. If Beckham actually puts in the time and forethought to how this will work, there’s no reason it can’t. The problem is its David Beckham who, while an excellent soccer player, has no history of organizing businesses, networking with local politicians, or growing fan interest among people who aren’t there just for his name. If the other partners he’s bringing in are willing to do the actual legwork, I’m all for it. They look however like they just jumped on a bandwagon.

  30. GRASS OVER TURF says:

    Regarding ATLANTA,

    I’m very very disappointed about their decision on Turf. I guess they’re not aware of the new technologies that keep grass fields green & healthy (ex. Real Madrid’s San Bernabeu) link to constructionweekonline.com

    Or maybe they just refuse to spend money on something they feel is not of any relevance to their success.

    This is Bad Bad news, as others have pointed out elite players will refuse to play there. It certainly won’t help in the contract negotiations.

    MLS 2.0 is what this Atlanta team will be stuck at. I personally was really excited about this team but a grass field is so important to the sport of soccer.

    I strongly hope they reconsider and look at the vast majority of technologies out there that can keep the grass looking pristine. Even a hybird system would do wonders (ex.Desso GrassMaster) – link to youtube.com

    Very Depressed By This News :-(