Beckham's Miami dream team steps closer to reality with stadium land deal

Now is the time for MLS to move forward in helping us deliver the soccer club that Miami has been waiting for
– 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 L.A. 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. He has previously said 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 the MBU in a statement.

“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 that 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 had 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.

In what Beckham lobbyist Spencer Crowley has described as a “paradigm shift” for major leisure facilities, spectators will be encouraged to come by boat, bus or on foot to reduce traffic in the neighbourhood, as there will be limited parking facilities for cars.

According to Leiweke, if approved the stadium will not open until 2021, but the team could still play in a temporary venue — such as Hard Rock stadium or nearby Marlins Park — while construction is underway.

MLS' current expansion plans call for 28 teams by 2020. Los Angeles and Minnesota will join the league during the next three years, with Miami taking one step closer on to becoming the 24th team. Teams 25 and 26 will be announced during the second or third quarter of 2017, at an expansion fee of $150m (€133m, £115m) each.

Beckham received an option to own an expansion team at a discounted franchise fee, as part of an agreement with MLS when he signed for Los Angeles Galaxy as a player in 2007.

Miami  Miami Beckham United  David Beckham  football  Major League Soccer  Populous  architecture 
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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
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The open-roofed stadium structure features a thin canopy, with parts of the field visible from above, and walls that are open to the elements above the seats / Populous
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