MLS commissioner Don Garber
admitted he wasn't certain it would get past Wednesday, but he said the MLS board of governors authorized him to work with an MLS expansion committee of owners and
league executives to finalize the deal for Miami Beckham United to join MLS as its 24th team.
There had been reports of concerns of some MLS owners about the $25 million entrance fee
would pay -- a franchise fee much lower than what a club would go for today, 10 years after he signed the agreement as part of his move to the LA Galaxy -- and about the lack of
parking at the stadium site in Overtown Miami Beckham United finally nailed down as a site for its stadium.
But Garber said the board of governors was impressed with the work that had
been done to move the bid forward. The finishing touch: a chance for owners to hear from Beckham himself about his vision and a chance to meet for the first time new Miami majority owner Todd
, who is part of the Los Angeles Dodgers ownership group.
"David is passionate, articulate, and focused," Garber said at a press conference in Chicago before the MLS All-Star
Game, "and Todd is a great, young sports owner and business executive who has got a great vision for our league."
MLS has been working on bringing a team back to South Florida for a decade
-- it folded the Ft. Lauderdale-based Miami Fusion after the 2001 season -- and the go-ahead from MLS owners comes more than three years after Garber introduced Beckham in Miami as the owner of the
24th MLS team.
"We're not announcing
MLS Miami today," said Garber, "but I am confident we'll be able to do that, perhaps by the end of the summer. We're at the finish line. Now we're one foot closer to it, but not quite over it. But
we're getting really, really, really close."
Expansion Update. Garber singled out four cities among the 12 expansion candidates
for the four spots that will be awarded -- two that will be decided at the end of the year and two that will be picked at a later date.
Those singled out for having "energized"
Sacramento (which broke ground on its stadium);
Detroit (for the breakthrough on its stadium-jail project);
Cincinnati (for FC Cincinnati's record-breaking crowds);
Nashville (crowds totaling more than 100,000 for two games).
Garber also mentioned MLS had recently been to Raleigh and Charlotte. Ironically, within an hour of the press
conference came news that Mecklenburg County commissioners had pulled out of a stadium deal with local businessman Marcus Smith and were reallocating the money they intended to spend on the
stadium for parks.
They agreed to deed the stadium land to the city of Charlotte, which has until now been reluctant to commit money to the stadium.