Feb 5, 2014, 10:32 AM EDT
Get your flip flops, sun hats and soccer shirts ready, David Beckham’s MLS franchise in Miami is now a reality.
On Wednesday alongside Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber and Mayor of Miami-Dade County Carlos A. Jimenez, Beckham announced that the league’s 22nd franchise will be based in Miami.
“I am thrilled to announce that David Beckham has exercised his option to purchase an MLS expansion team and we are so excited to he has selected Miami for his new club,” Garber announced. “David had lots of cities across the U.S. and Canada to choose from, he picked Miami because he believes in this city. It is perhaps one of the most diverse and international cities in the entire world and people here love this sport. Together, we have no doubt that this will be an very successful MLS team.”
After months of intense speculation, the former England, Manchester United, Real Madrid and LA Galaxy midfielder has officially set up the league’s newest franchise, as MLS is willing to give soccer in South Florida another go.
The new franchise will apparently cost Beckham just over $20 million to set up, which is a significant discount on the usual expansion fee of around $100 million that we’ve seen in recent years as Portland, Montreal, Vancouver and Orlando have entered the league.
Beckham then gave more reaction as to why he picked Miami to start his own franchise and become an owner in MLS.
“Why Miami?… Why not? For me, I wanted to create a team that we can start from scratch,” Beckham explained. “There was a team here 10 years ago and unfortunately they folded but going forward, I wanted to create a team that can be very personal. I want to make it my own team. I have great partners. Miami is a vibrant city with a lot of passion. I know this city is ready for football, soccer, this time around. I’ve always said throughout my career, whether there’s challenges or not, I need to work hard.”
Of course we’ve been here before, as in 2001 the Miami Fusion were shut down, along with Florida’s other former MLS team the Tampa Bay Mutiny, and since then top-flight domestic soccer has been non-existent in the Sunshine State.
But with Beckham’s financial clout and star power, along with those of other investors including Miami Heat basketball superstar LeBron James and Bolivian billionaire Marcelo Claure, expect Becks and co. to do it big in MIA.
The option to own his own MLS franchise was inserted into Beckham’s original contract with LA when he first arrived Stateside in 2007, and now the former England national team captain has exercised his option to put money, time and effort back into the league he was so influential in helping to grow over the past five years.
Also announced were rough details of the plans to bring a soccer-specific stadium to central Miami, as Beckham and his partners continue to hammer out a plan for a 25,000 seater stadium along the Miami waterfront.
“For it to be successful we will need a world class soccer stadium to serve as its home venue. It will show the rest of the world we can have one of the great soccer stadiums in the world,” Commissioner Garber said. “If we are successful this facility will be a showcase of everything that is so special about this city. Starting today David and his partners in the league will work closely with Mayor Jimenez and the Miami commissioner to find a project that makes sense MLS, David’s team and our fans. So that we can finalize our plan after many years to be back in this great city.”
Beckham will now continue to work hard behind the scenes to ready Miami for their entry into MLS, and at the end of the historic announcement Becks addressed the crowd for one final time.
“I want to thank the fans and the media for coming down here to Miami on a big day for myself and everyone that has been working very hard with this project. Thank you very much for your support, I hear your concerns and issues and all that you have to throw at me.” Beckham said.
“I’m looking forward to working with you and having a successful relationship in the years to come. Thanks to the people of Miami for making my family and friends feel so welcome. It means so much that we have your support.”
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