Major League Soccer is moving one step closer to becoming a reality in South Beach thanks to some help from David Beckham.
According to ABC 10, a group that includes Beckham and the city of Miami has agreed to build a soccer-specific stadium:
This is the next step in getting an MLS franchise in Miami. In February 2014, Beckham announced his plans to be an owner of a new MLS team in South Beach, but getting a stadium built was one of the biggest obstacles to making it a reality.
Beckham's group released a statement on the decision, according to Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald:
“Today's meeting with Mayor Regalado was another positive step toward bringing a world class soccer club to Miami. We're still in the early planning stages and several viable options still exist, but our preferred stadium location is the former Orange Bowl site,” the statement read. “David, Marcelo and Simon are thrilled by the initial outpouring of support we've received from our fans and we're excited about sharing our plans with the City, County and community soon.”
When Beckham first announced his venture, his business partner, Marcelo Claure, told Franco Panizo of SBISoccer.com the launch target for the Miami MLS franchise was 2017:
Three years, three years, 2017. That’s the idea if it all works out like we hope. I think three years is the objective because we’re creating a soccer team from scratch. We have to pick coaches, we have to involve the community, we have to pick a name, pick a jersey, we have to convince big-name players to come play for us.
Having a stadium built next to Marlins Park makes sense since there's already built-in proximity for one of the city's major sports franchises and fans won't have to do additional traveling to see their new soccer team.
On July 1, Ben van der Meer of the Sacramento Business Journal noted that the MLS has already awarded Miami a franchise, but the group was in danger of losing that agreement without progress on a stadium. Now that a tentative agreement has been reached, Miami's team appears safe.
Now, the next moves for the franchise can be selecting a name and finding players to target so it can fill out a roster and get fans in the stadium when it does eventually open.