Garber on potential Miami franchise: “We will not expand unless we have a downtown stadium”

DonGarberMLSStateoftheLeague1 (USATodaySports)

By FRANCO PANIZO

Broward County might be attempting to lure David Beckham and his potential MLS expansion franchise away from Miami-Dade County, but it is apparently Miami or bust for the global icon.

MLS commissioner Don Garber recently told ESPN analyst Alexi Lalas that Beckham’s desired franchise in Miami will not come to fruition unless a downtown site is found for a soccer-specific stadium. Beckham has had initial troubles in securing land for a proposed stadium that he and his ownership group are planning to privately fund. Recent reports indicated Beckham’s group were listening to Broward County, but Garber does not seem keen on that idea.

“Miami remains a top priority for us, but we are mindful of the challenges we had in the past and must have the right ownership group and stadium location,” said Garber. “David has been working to secure additional partners, all if approved, would be terrific MLS owners. David and his partners have not yet been able to secure a site that we believe provides the proper access and iconic presence that will help ensure success.

“We remain focused on a downtown Miami location, and we will not expand to Miami unless we have a downtown site for the stadium.”

While Garber’s comments regarding Beckham’s additional partners is intriguing considering nothing has been revealed publicly in recent months about who the former English international is bringing on board, the main message is that Beckham and his group need to find a site in downtown Miami in order to get an expansion team launched in that market.

Beckham, who announced his plans to use his discounted expansion franchise fee in Miami in February, has seen two sites already turned down. A location in PortMiami received enough opposition to kill Beckham’s dreams of building a stadium there and then some political hurdles prevented his group from filling in a boat slip near the AmericanAirlines Arena, home of the NBA’s Miami Heat.

The preference for a stadium in the popular South Florida metropolis that is Miami over a city in Broward County is in part due to the fact that the now-defunct Miami Fusion struggled to gain much attention from Miami citizens while playing in Lockhart Stadium in Ft. Lauderdale.

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What do you think of Garber’s comments? Think he should be more flexible and allow Beckham to explore options such as Broward County? Do you see this Miami franchise happening at this point?

Share your thoughts below.

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65 Responses to Garber on potential Miami franchise: “We will not expand unless we have a downtown stadium”

  1. Andy in Atlanta says:

    Beckham needs to say screw you Miami and go to Las Vegas… The franchise would explode there…

    Royal LV, stripped in felt green and glitzy gold

  2. Dace says:

    I think this is great, but unless MLS is throwing their full weight behind helping Becks get his downtown spot he shouldn’t really be chiming in.

    • Tyler says:

      By threatening Miami with downtown or nothing, MLS is in a sense throwing its full weight behind the project.

      • Ali Dia says:

        I read it a little bit differently (not that I have any reason to feel I *know* something). For me it felt a lot more like Garber telling Beckham he’s about ready to pull the plug on this increasingly unpleasant problem, and he’d best either salvage what he might still have with the downtown idea, or find a new project with his franchise option.

        • AMP says:

          Eh, but Garber could have just called the wonderful man if that’s what he wanted to do.

          • Ali Dia says:

            Ah yes but such explicit and direct communication can be expensive– a direct order to cease a Miami-area site search that has been publicly preapproved would likely necessaitate a consideration from the league, such as a partial cost reimbursement for the Miami search and/or extension of the option. An indirect warning or insinuation that the plan will die down the road on the current path is much cheaper

            Not to mention a private conversations deprives the Don of the oppotunity to publicly chastise the Miami politicians who are chasing away a potentially popular team that will create revenues and local jobs, at a minimum. The Don will be back to Miami soon, even if Beckham is not with him. If he must wait, the leverage-maximizing position is that MLS left to find a better partner community because the current Miami politicians were unwelcoming

            I am thinking the Don is about to make Beckham a proposal that is a little better suited to his investor team’s interests and capabilities. If you want wild but enjoyable speculation, just say the word.

            • KingGoogleyEye says:

              Ali Dia, fwiw, I read it very similarly as you did: Don put a shot across Beckham’s bow. “You got a sweet-smoking deal on your franchise, now deliver something equally sweet or the deal won’t happen.” It’s important to remember that while Becks got the discounted franchise option, he didn’t get a ‘blank check’ franchise option; i.e., he can’t do whatever he wants with his discounted franchise.

              On the other hand, Garber of course still wants a Super Beckham Sexy FC club in MLS. So this public warning could also be simultaneously Don’s way of helping Beckham, as Tyler commented above. “Dear Miami, you’re about to lose The David Beckham. You don’t have to give him whatever he wants, but you do need to start acting like you want him.”

              Now, as for “wild but enjoyable speculation,” do we really have to ask? Speak man!

              Two questions: where in MLS is suited to host (i.e., play off of) David’s other-worldly superstardom? I think Miami, Vegas, LA, NYC, and Chicago to some degree.

              Where is his superstardom likely to win the largest demographic? e.g., Kaka in Orlando will capture the many Brazilians living in Florida; does David’s appeal cross over? I really don’t know.

  3. Brain Guy says:

    “. . . unless we’re talking about New York City, in which case none of our rules apply.”

    • MisterJC says:

      Partial agreement, however, the league and the team always knew they would play in Yankee Stadium until something got done. They could do a lot worse than playing there…

      • beto says:

        So would Marlins Stadium work for Miami? Its just as good as Yankee Stadium for soccer (not very) and its got a retractable roof! I’m sure that Miamians (that can’t be the right term?) would be happy to see that boondogle get a little help and not see another tax payer funded stadium. Plus its not like the Marlins are using that stadium much!

        • MisterJC says:

          See: “They could do a lot worse than playing there…” NYCFC will get a somewhat decent draw playing at Yankee Stadium at minimum, whereas Marlins Stadium would likely be a ghost town…

        • Casey says:

          if they use another stadium the owners miss out on all kinds of revenue sources. building the stadium makes them more $$$. They will not end up paying for it out of their pockets like implied, they will get all kinds of tax breaks and other incentives plus they will get parking, concessions, luxury boxes and naming rights to profit off of, all of this is lost if they use another millionaires stadium.

    • AcidBurn says:

      We will not expand to New York City, unless we have a stadium in Queens.

      Oh sorry, unless we have a stadium.

      Hello? Yankees? Man City? Naaaah, we don’t need any of that, let’s do it and we’ll figure the rest out later!

      • Brain Guy says:

        Garber long ago became convinced that MLS absolutely required a NYC franchise, and has been willing to break or ignaore all sorts of rules to that end — not to mention the effects on the nearby team that built its own state-of-the-art stadium.

        • Quit Whining About Soccer in the US says:

          Maybe TV contracts convinced him that he needed to have a second team in NY…and he thought having money would be a better idea than not having money.

        • johnny99 says:

          And let’s wait and see what happens when NYCFC has to build it’s stadium in Westchester. It’ll be a little awkward having the city’s team play in the suburbs.

    • K-Town says:

      A business plan that is flexible is the best kind of plan. 12 months out should be followed closely. From there out to 5-10 years its all a vision statement of where you wanna go. I LOVE that Garber is flexible in growing this league. It is not an established league yet. It is a growing teenager that is keeping its options open regarding the future.

    • KingGoogleyEye says:

      What are these “rules” you talk about? I get the concern fans express over allocation, DPs, etc., but this is different. Garber believes that an MLS team in South Florida will capture a huge demographic and that in order to succeed that team needs to play in downtown Miami, not a suburb. New York City (and every other city everywhere) are different from South Florida, so what he thinks is necessary for success in one doesn’t have to translate to the other.

      You can argue against his conclusions without accusing him of duplicitous reasoning.

      I mean, do you think that if Burley, Idaho shows up with a “downtown, soccer-specific stadium” then MLS should view that as a better option than, for example, a New York City team that plays in Yankee Stadium or Westchester? ‘Cause, you know, Burley would be “following the rules” and all.

    • JayAre says:

      NYCFC are playing in NYC. The whole NYC is basically a downtown they are two different markets. If a team like NYCFC wanted to put a stadium in the suburbs they would have to move up state … There really isn’t a wrong location in NYC. People spelling doom because NYCFC is playing in a baseball stadium need to visit the city or try living here.

    • Matthew R says:

      See Mister JC’s comment, NYCFC could do A LOT worse than playing in Yankee Stadium. Pier 40, (which I believe was one of the proposed sites) would have been a nightmare, is it in Manhattan, yes. Would it basically stop all traffic on the west side highway on game day and turn all non-soccer fans in NYC against it, yes. I feel like some people who aren’t from NYC think that there’s plenty of space for a stadium in the five boroughs, which is the furthest thing from the truth. Most high schools in NYC have to play soccer games at Randall’s/Ward’s Island (which is this random piece of land in the east river between Manhattan and Queens), so it’s not like anyone really has a huge lot of space in an ideal location just begging for a stadium to be built. Furthermore, Westchester is (for the most part) a pretty affluent and well populated suburb if there ever was one, and it’s easy to get to from the city by train and car. I think if NYCFC do end up there, they will still draw excellent attendances, just maybe not with all the fanfare that a stadium in NYC would bring.

  4. Travis says:

    I’ll never understand Garber’s infatuation with downtown Miami. It isn’t that great. And I don’t think it’s where the team would be most successful.
    I think Broward would have been a better location. It’s easier access for the tri-county area. No one who lives outside of Miami, particularly those north, want to drive to downtown. And the majority of their season ticket holders would most likely come from north of Miami (Broward and even Palm Beach Counties).

    • Drew11 says:

      Agree. I can tell Garber hasn’t spent much time in downtown Miami. Those folks are not MLS or US Soccer supporters.

      • bigpeepee says:

        Thats precisely it, he’s not initially targeting MLS/US supporters. He’s targeting international soccer supporters. They probably feel that within the context of S. Florida the right ingredient is a south american leaning team. My guess is they’ll sign some big Colombian star, Agudelo, a Brazilian star, then an American star…in that order. And yes, by then MLS will probably have 4 DPs per team rule.

        • AcidBurn says:

          Didn’t you hear? Ronaldinho’s agent said he’s playing until he’s 42! Sign him up!

        • Prettypenguin says:

          Osvaldo Alonso to Miami FC, with a couple Argentines, a Colombian, and young 1st generation Americans and Homegrowns. Honestly, a downtown or beachside stadium is a great idea, even if they have to spend all or part of the first season at FIU or Marlins Stadium.

          • Travis says:

            Find another Cuban. Ozzie will retire a Sounder.
            Though, I agree with the international appeal.

            • KingGoogleyEye says:

              “Find another Cuban.”

              Host another Gold Cup/Olympic qualifier in the US and you will have at least one more Cuban available for MLS.

              Host the Gold Cup and have Miami FC already running and you might get a whole team’s worth of Cuban players.

    • Münster says:

      Answer is easy

      The future of America is in the cities. The suburban experiment and its charmless environs is coming to an end. Downtown stadiums mean, among other things, greater access, greater exposure, and greater real-estate prices for the stadium’s owners.

      • guy says:

        The future of America is climate change. Investment in this team and stadium being in downtown Miami is very shortsighted.

      • Travis says:

        I understand the need for some sort of entertainment type district/hot spot to be near the stadium. This has proven to be good.

        However, South Florida has a lot of those sort of areas. It’s not as though Ft Lauderdale is Frisco, or Commerce City, or Bridgeview, or even Harrison. The metro area runs from West Palm Beach to Miami.

        The problem I see is that now one outside of Miami wants to have to travel into Miami. It’s a disaster to get around there.

    • OSUEXT says:

      It’s about money, always has been. I think this sums it up nicely

      link to everybodyhatescleveland.com

      • Quit Whining About Soccer in the US says:

        That was close to unreadable. Did he have a point other than we need to win ?

    • MLSsnob says:

      As a Palm Beach county resident, I can tell you that I would be a season ticket holder. HOWEVER, while I used to be whole heartdly behind a Broward county location I can tell you now that it wouldn’t have the same sort of international appeal that a Miami proper franchise would draw. You would not get the instant name recognition, the big name player appeal or the SOBE culture (as mych as I’m not a fan of it) like you would in Miami. This needs to happen or I’ll have to drive the 2 hours for Orlando City . . .

      • Travis says:

        See, I wouldn’t drive south Golden Glades.

        As for the SOBE appeal, most athletes don’t live down there anyway. Those who have homes, are often west, those on the beach can get more north.

        There are plenty of “entertainment” districts throughout South Florida. Anything near Las Olas?

    • WxELFxW says:

      Downtown Miami has the MetroRail that will move people from both North and South of Dwtn and also has the MetroMover in downtown. If the stadium is placed near any of the stations, I don’t see why the only fans would have to be from downtown.

      • Travis says:

        that system is a joke. It barely gets you anywhere. If I could catch that from Aventura, different story.

  5. Clint says:

    The deal is off in Miami — obviously

    • bigpeepee says:

      if the owner of Sacto was smart, he’d say to Becks “half the team for your expansion rights.” No money down. The only problem is that Sacto doesn’t have a stadium big enough for their support. I don’t mean the place they were playing in that seats 20k. They need a place that can seat 35k or above, and Sacramento doesn’t have such place

  6. Ivan says:

    Franchise, expansion, salary cap, All Star Game, all terms that underscore the lifeless, plastic zombie league that is MLS.

    Garber out!

    • Ian says:

      Yes, of course, because if Don Garber stepped down, he’d surely take franchising, expansion, the salary cap, and the All Star Game with him.

      It sounds like you have a problem with MLS, not Garber.

  7. MLS_Soccer_Talker says:

    ” NYCFC dont need no stinkin stadium ” – D.Garber

  8. Weston John says:

    2nd paragraph should be corrected to say privately fund (not publicly).

    As a Broward resident, I’ll love going downtown to these games…

  9. Mike R says:

    Miami is the sexy spot, St. Louis is the one that deserves one and would thrive.
    I guess Becky’s prefers the sun of Miami to the practicality of St. Louis.
    St. Louis = soccer hotbed miam= T&A and fair weather fan hotbed, no sports loyalty. Watch the attendance plummet for the heat now

    • bbstl says:

      Agreed! Tear down Union Station and build a SSS right there. Near the Metrolink and all highways.

  10. Scott e Dio93 says:

    Downtown Miami …hahaha…people in Dade county are willing to pay $100. to see Real Madrid or Man City, but people in Dade County won’t spend $30. for a MLS game. Garber doesn’t seem understand the soccer culture in the cities.

    Broward County might be more loyal to MLS, but Garber continue to insult people of Broward County, it was people of Broward County kept loyal Funsion (even with insult name Miami Funsion), and no one Dade County remembers the Funsion. I lived Kendall (for six months) and Sunny Isles (for four years), and now I lived in Hollywood, and I notice the difference in soccer culture.

    • John says:

      What’s Funsion? Funshion Chips?

    • Quit Whining About Soccer in the US says:

      I love it when people make the comparison of the1 game Real Madrid plays in Florida every decade and an MLS team that would play there every other week for a year.

      It is like when soccer fanatics say the Sounders are drawing twice what the Mariners are drawing. The Mariners are playing 5x as many home games…do the math.

      Cool that RM and Man City did so well, but very sure any MLS team will draw more and make more than RM did this year.

    • MLSsnob says:

      Shouldn’t you be a Strikers fan then?

  11. Scott e Dio93 says:

    No one in Miami are willing to pay to see Besler or Zusi.

    aybe Impact FC have a bigger fanbase in South Florida than any future Miami team.

  12. AcidBurn says:

    Becks, da stadium needs 2 be right by da BEACH, boyee!!!!

  13. MLS to el paso tx says:

    if beckham doesn’t get it his way in miami, then miami will come later like in 10 years, but I believe miami becomes the 25th team.
    unless miami gets a stadium deal by the end of the year and plays at temporary stadium in 2016 n opens new stadium in 2017 with atlanta.
    on the other hand, mls can go foward with vegas and minneapolis or sacramento as expansion markets.
    as for beckham, I see him getting miami no matter what, even as the 25th spot but he would have no trouble going to LA2, which i would love a team by santa monica n call it hollywood stars fc. he can also go for cosmos, san diego, vegas but I still love the miami idea, inter miami city.

    • John says:

      Cosmos? 3 NY Teams? Not a chance.

      • NASL TO EL PASO TX says:

        Yes, cosmos belong to queens and red bull to New Jersey -lower Manhattan. I’m surprised Becks has not thought about cosmos and joining the cosmos future. It’s New York and posh would love it there with all the fashion and glamour events.
        If I was Becks, I would tell the cosmos, hey cosmos MLS is the future, not NASL. Let’s partner and make cosmos what they mean to America. Then I will even say, red bull has no history or future but to sell their energy drink company image to soccer fans in MLS and New York.
        I think Becks was told by garber, leave New York alone since nycfc was after it and red bull will rebrand sooner than later.

  14. LAboy says:

    Go to Cleveland, Becks!

  15. Quit Whining About Soccer in the US says:

    I gotta think that with all the interest in other cities for an MLS team, the owners are thinking, why are we selling this for $20 million ( or whatever WAY below price Goldenballs would pay ) ?

    Very much less willing to just give into anything in this situation.

  16. dude says:

    They should consider North Miami Beach or up the coast into Hallandale. Land around Gulfstream Racetrack could be developed. It could be on the Intercoastal with high-rise backgrounds around the stadium. Anywhere on the land side of the intercoastal waterway even into Broward county would be very nice. They definitely should not move out west.

  17. tummy says:

    Too bad Garber had no pull when Chicago built there stadium on an industrial wasteland in the middle of nowhere 2 hrs away from Chicago.

  18. Kevin says:

    Yes, downtown stadium + Becks’ high profile is the only way to do Miami.

    If they can’t get an acceptable location, walk away. MLS does not need Miami as much as Miami needs MLS (and I say that regretfully to hardcore footie fans in South Florida).

  19. User222 says:

    NFL, MLB, NBA already built their arenas where they wanted. Becks needs to do it right, he needs to get a downtown stadium by the beach.

    Should the World Cup ever come back to the US then USSF should never allow any WC games be played in Miami nor USMNT friendlies be played in Miami. It might be counter productive for soccer fans in Miami, but why allow a city that stops the growth of professional soccer be a WC venue and rip the financial rewards?

    F.. Miami…