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David Beckham

Founder Miami Beckham United


David Beckham’s plans to launch a glamorous new Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise in Miami have taken a major step forward, with the county’s board of commissioners agreeing to sell a 2.8 acre plot of land he needs to build a stadium.

Miami Beckham United (MBU), the consortium representing the footballing icon, has paid over US$9m (€7.9m, £7m) for the land in Miami’s Overtown neighbourhood and said it is “looking forward to working with the Miami community to bring our vision for the neighbourhood to life.”

The group – which includes US sports executive Tim Leiweke, Bolivian American telecoms entrepreneur Marcelo Claure, former Spice Girls manager Simon Fuller and LA Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly – already owned a neighbouring six-acre plot, and needed the additional land to build its planned 25,000-capacity stadium, designed by sports architects Populous.

Beckham now has a limited time period in which to finalise a deal with MLS approving the franchise’s stadium site, ownership team and financing model. Then he plans to attract some of the world’s best players to join the team in Miami.

“By purchasing the last piece of land needed for our privately-funded stadium, MBU is achieving another major milestone on the way to MLS formally awarding Miami a franchise,” said MBU.

“We have assembled a world-class team of partners, presented a vision for building the premier soccer club in the Americas, and assembled the land needed to build our stadium. Now is the time for MLS to move forward in helping us deliver the soccer club Miami has been waiting for.

“Miami is the eighth largest metro area in the US, the country’s number one soccer market, and a critical gateway to Latin America and Europe. MLS will only reach its full potential once it fields a team here. Our loyal fans in Miami and around the world have been waiting for this moment for years.”

According to local news reports, the group has pledged to spend around $175m (€155m, £137m) building the stadium and to create 50 full-time jobs in Overtown as part of the land deal.

Miami-Dade County mayor Carlos Gimenez said: “I firmly believe that the sale of this property, as well as the subsequent soccer stadium, will leave a lasting positive impact on the community,” adding that the deal means county taxpayers will be “properly compensated” for the land.

Populous’ vision for the stadium is lighter and airier than previous iterations proposed by other firms, with Leiweke telling a public meeting in Overtown in May that MBU has listened to concerns raised by residents that a “hulking stadium would choke the area”.

The open-roofed structure features a thin canopy, with parts of the field visible from above, and walls that are open to the elements above the seats. Spectators will be encouraged to arrive by boat, bus or on foot to reduce traffic, as there will be limited parking space for cars.

According to Leiweke, if approved the stadium will not open until 2021, but the team could still play in a temporary venue while construction is underway.

MLS gave Beckham the option to form a new team for a discounted franchise fee as part of the deal that brought him to LA Galaxy as a player in 2007.

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