It's official: David Beckham is putting his eggs in Miami's basket.
Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber made the announcement Wednesday during a glitzy press conference at the Perez Art Museum, Miami. Beckham and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez were at his side.
It was a move rumored for months. The former LA Galaxy superstar has exercised his option for an MLS expansion team and will seek to build that team in Miami. Finally the MLS looks like a reality for soccer fans in South Florida.
We appreciate all that David has done as a player, an ambassador and as a global icon to help grow Major League Soccer, Garber said. We are thrilled that he will be an owner, and we look forward to him helping us achieve our goal of being one of the top soccer leagues in the world.
According to MLSSoccer.com, Beckhams ownership group will now work with MLS and local officials to finalize a deal for a world-class soccer stadium, but a timeline for when negotiations need to be completed or when a Miami team might join the league were not revealed.
The Miami Herald reported last week that Beckham and his representatives plan to build a privately funded stadium for the new team, and met last week with Mayor Gimenez about 30 potential sites. According to Garber's office, an agreement for a new stadium must be finalized in order for MLS to come to Miami.
The announcement turned into a two-day party, Miami-style.
Beckham, 38, joined a crowd of roughly 200 people for an event at Miami's John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall Tuesday night to drum up support for the project, and told the crowd that he expects to make Miami's franchise an international success story.
There's going to be a few bumps along the way, but we're going to make the team in Miami not just the best team in America, Beckham said in brief remarks to the crowd, we're going to take the team global.
Beckham has a knack for attracting money, a happy trait for the city of Miami.
He increased the coffers of a mildly successful Galaxy team when he jumped across the pond to sign with Los Angeles in July 2007. It was a gamble that paid off mightily for owner Anschutz Entertainment Group. The Galaxy now is the richest team in the MLS, worth upward of $100 million.
Forbes' analysis said this about the Galaxy in Beckham's last year with the club: "The team creates excitement in the stands and with the media wherever they go, thanks to the import of midfielder David Beckham in 2007. His New York-area debut drew 66,000 people to Giants Stadium, five times the typical crowd. Two months after his arrival, weight loss firm Herbalife agreed to a $4 million-a-year jersey sponsorship deal, twice what any other team commands. The payoff for Herbalife: Fans snapped up 300,000 of Beckhams No. 23 jersey in the first year.
From the beginning of my career in England to today in Miami, my journey has always been driven by my incredible passion for the game, Beckham said in a statement. Miami is a vibrant, diverse community that thrives on the same type of energy that fuels the international appeal of soccer, and I look forward to a dedicated, long-term partnership with this dynamic city and Major League Soccer. My experience with the Galaxy is what convinced me that I wanted to one day own an MLS team and it is thrilling to now see that dream coming true.
Beckham led the LA Galaxy to two MLS Cup titles during his six seasons in the league. His arrival in LA, after trophy-filled years with European giants Manchester United and Real Madrid, ushered in a new era for the league. His celebrity and accomplishments have spurred bigger contracts for star players, seven new expansion teams and the addition of nine soccer-specific stadiums.
In 2012 he left the MLS, finishing his career with powerhouse French club Paris Saint-Germain.
Reach Nancy Smith at email@example.com or at 228-282-2423.