Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By KEVIN KOCZWARA and MIKE GRAMAJO
ORLANDO, Fla. – MLS Commissioner Don Garber confirmed at last night’s announcement for Orlando City SC that Major League Soccer is working with David Beckham to add another team in Florida soon.
“I’m convinced Miami will be a great market if we can get a stadium in downtown Miami and (get the) right ownership,” Garber told SBI. “Even though we left that market 10 years ago, if we go back with a different scenario it will be successful.”
Beckham has a reported $25 million option to purchase an expansion team in MLS that expires at the end of the year, so he’s been working to bring in partners for an ownership team to lead a new franchise in Florida, where Garber believes a local rivalry could thrive.
“I actually believe it’s really important (to have another Southeast team),” said Garber. “The league is very focused on rivalries. We have a second team coming to New York in 2015. We believe having two teams in New York is great, we have two teams in L.A., we believe we need two [or] three teams in Florida.
“I don’t know how long that’ll take, but the way the league is growing, the way the sport is growing, this state has such shifting demographics that are so positive for our sport, I’m convinced we’ll have more teams and rivalries that will be very special.”
Beckham was in South Florida last week looking for potential stadium sites.
Garber confirmed that Beckham has been speaking with Miami Heat superstar LeBron James about being an investor.
The league tried its hand in Miami previously with the Miami Fusion, but the franchise was contracted along with the Tampa Bay Mutiny in 2001. Garber admits that at the time teams in Florida didn’t pan out, but he feels enough has changed for a team to be successful in Miami.
“That time (in 2001), we had few owners, one soccer-specific stadium, America hadn’t really caught on to the game,” Garber said. “We didn’t have the right building in that market (Miami). It was just new and we were probably ahead of our time.”
What do you think about Miami as a potential MLS market? Excited to see the league looking to expand its presence in Florida? Think Beckham and James could generate excitement for MLS in South Beach?