MLS, Beckham Announce League's 22nd Franchise
by Victor Jacobo
Feb 05, 2014 8:07 PM EST
In a press conference on Wednesday, Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez and two-time MLS Champion David Beckham announced the addition of the league's 22nd team.
"Miami is a vibrant city, a city with a lot of passion," Beckham told reporters at the Perez Art Museum Miami.
The international soccer icon will exercise one of his LA Galaxy contract options to purchase and own a team in the Miami area at a discount. Now that Beckham and his partners have selected a city, the next step, and perhaps the most crucial step, is to choose a site for a soccer-specific stadium.
In order to achieve this, Beckham will have to work with Mayor Gimenez to begin construction in time to begin play in a few years.
"We share [Beckham's] vision of greatness and great things [he] wants to bring to this franchise," Gimenez announced. "We are going to do all in our power to get the stadium in place as quickly as possible."
Beckham made it clear that no public funding will be used in the construction of the stadium.
"We don't want public funding. We want to create a stadium and a football club that is the people's club. The people of Miami, the city of Miami deserve a stadium they can be proud of."
Along with a stadium in the downtown area, Beckham shared his plans to set up a youth academy to develop local talent from around Florida. He emphasized the importance of not just bringing great talent to Miami, but also "nurturing local talent."
Florida's history with the MLS has not been a flourishing one. This will be the second time the Miami area hosts a MLS team. The Miami Fusion joined the league in 1998 but folded in 2001 along with their Florida counterpart the Tampa Bay Mutiny. Both teams were shut down because of low attendance and poor financial management.
MLS looks to reverse its Florida fortunes with the additions of Orlando City SC (set to join the league in 2015) and now the Miami franchise.
Beckham expressed his hope that the Miami franchise not only be a great team in MLS, but around the world.
"We're going to make the team in Miami not just the best team in America," Beckham said. "We're going to take the team global."
The new Miami franchise is set to begin league play in 2016.