David Beckham: 'I don't give up'

After multiple false starts and twists and turns, MLS is returning to Miami, fulfilling on its agreement with David Beckham to give him an option on an expansion team.

On Monday, Beckham and his ownership group were introduced as owners of MLS's 25th franchise at an Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts on Monday. Beckham said Miami was only one city he ever wanted his team to play in, but he admitted it was quite a journey from the initial announcement almost four years ago of his plans to put stakes down in South Florida.


Photo courtesy of MLS

“I was drawn to this city the same reason millions of people are," he said. "Diversity, culture, the weather, the beaches, the people."

Beckham's initial partners included Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure and American Idol founder Simon Fuller, his long-time adviser, but Claure told the crowd there was one setback after another over the last four years.

"It was very difficult at times," said Beckham. "There were times, like Marcelo said, we sat back and said, ‘This is not going to happen. This dream is not going to happen. It’s too difficult, too hard, too many bumps in the road.’ But I don’t give up."

Ownership.  Beckham had been granted an option to purchase an MLS expansion team for $25 million when he signed with the LA Galaxy in 2007. An MLS expansion team is worth far more than that now as cities vie for expansion spots. Nashville's group was awarded the league's 24th franchise for a fee of $150 million in December 2017.

Beckham sought out additional investors to add to the group that includes Claure and Fuller. In August 2017, Los Angeles Dodgers minority owner Todd Boehly was introduced to MLS's board of governors as Miami Beckham United majority partner. By December, he was out, and brothers Jorge and Jose Mas, both with strong Miami connections, joined the Beckham team. Also in the ownership group: Masayoshi Son, chairman of Sprint and CEO of SoftBank Group.

The deal appeared to be dead in November when Claure responded to an email from Jorge Mas. He told the Miami Herald they agreed to meet with Beckham for dinner at an Italian restaurant in New Jersey near the corporate airport where their private jets flew in to. By the end of their pasta dinner, they had the workings of a deal to bring in the Mas brothers, who had lost out for the purchase of the baseball Marlins

Stadium. Miami Beckham United had been seeking for more than three years to get a stadium project off the ground. Deals at three sites -- PortMiami, downtown Miami and Little Havana, next to Marlins Park -- collapsed.

In June 2017, Miami-Dade County commissioners voted, 9-4, to allow Beckham's group to buy a third parcel of land it needs to build a 25,000-seat stadium in Miami's Overtown neighborhood. In addition, Beckham plans to build a training complex for the team and academy program.

The process of getting to work on building the stadium is still a ways off. Beckham's group needs to get zoning approval, and a nuisance lawsuit attacking the process by which the county agreed to sell the parcel of land is still in Florida's courts.

Start date. At Monday's announcement, no date was given for the Miami team's launch, but MLS commissioner Don Garber said afterward the Miami team should begin play in 2020. That would likely require it begin in a temporary facility.

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