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Miami’s MLS future continues to hinge on downtown stadium deal

Jul 29, 2014, 10:35 AM EDT

Miami's Arquietectonica and 360 Architecture Miami's Arquietectonica and 360 Architecture

During the LA Galaxy’s 3-0 win over Seattle on Monday night some interesting tidbits arrived at half time from ESPN analyst Alexi Lalas.

The former U.S. national team defender spilled the beans after a discussion he had with MLS Commissioner Don Garber about the ongoing situation in Miami with David Beckham’s Major League Soccer franchise limping towards a 2017 start date.

[RELATED: Becks' Miami plans in limbo]

Having an MLS team playing in Downtown Miami, especially by 2017, seems a bit of a stretch at this point.

Lalas’ main piece of information was that Garber and the league are still insisting that any MLS franchise based in Miami should be housed in their own stadium downtown. That will not change and it has been the clear message from the league since the new team was announced back in February this year.

“MLS will not expand to Miami unless we have a downtown site for the stadium,” Lalas quotes Garber as saying.

Yet nearly six months since the franchise was awarded to Beckham and he chose to place it in Miami, his consortium, which includes his British business partner Simon Fuller and Bolivian Billionaire Marcelo Claure among others, has got no closer to nailing down a stadium deal in Miami. In fact, they are nowhere near.

That is worrying for the league, soccer in Miami and Beckham.

Several locations have been earmarked then crossed off by the City, politicians, local businesses and residents, as a deal on land next to the American Airlines center on the waterfront appears to be umm… dead in the water. Beckham’s stadium plans have offered several other alternatives which include creating more public space downtown but that only upset Carnival Cruises who see the planned stadium as blocking their own plans for expansion in the Port of Miami.

With other markets emerging as future MLS expansion cities all the time, Beckham and co. need to get a shift on to make Miami a possibility. If it doesn’t work out, then perhaps a move to Las Vegas, Sacramento, San Antonio or a whole host of other soccer mad cities in North America would make more sense. Building a stadium wouldn’t be this expensive or time-consuming in most other cities in the USA.

More than likely Garber’s message, distributed via Lalas, is intended to scare politicians in Miami into signing a stadium deal and make them worry about the millions of dollars they could be costing the local economy by failing to do so.

Let’s see if this latest piece of news on Miami has any impact whatsoever.

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