David Beckham's Miami Soccer Stadium Deal Reportedly on Verge of Collapsing

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistNovember 5, 2015

MIAMI, FL - FEBRUARY 05: (EDITORS NOTE: Retransmission of #466940287 with alternate crop.) Commissioner Don Garber, David Beckham and Mayor Carlos Gimenez attends a press conference to announce their plans to launch a new Major League Soccer franchise at PAMM Art Museum on February 5, 2014 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Aaron Davidson/Getty Images)
Aaron Davidson/Getty Images

David Beckham and the ownership group behind Miami's Major League Soccer expansion franchise are running into another snag with regard to the team's new stadium.

In an interview with David Smiley of the Miami Herald, Tim Leiweke, the man charged with spearheading the stadium bid, said that current landowners who occupy the space the club is looking to buy could prevent the construction a new venue.

"They know what we're doing and unfortunately they've let that create an absolutely unrealistic conversation," Leiweke said. "They can absolutely blow this deal up, and they probably will blow this deal up. We're willing to overpay. We just don't want to be the stupidest guys on the face of the earth."

With the substantial amount of public funding committed to the Miami Marlins' stadium, the city has been loath to repeat the situation with Miami's MLS team.   

As a result, Beckham and his partners have endured a difficult time getting plans in place for stadium construction. They originally desired a waterfront location but ultimately settled on a spot next to Marlins Park.

Many have criticized the commitment of Beckham and the investors behind the franchise. Leiweke admitted in the interview that "this has not been the smartest negotiation I've been a part of."

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Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl assumed Leiweke's comments are more about public posturing rather than signaling a real sense of panic:

Grant Wahl @GrantWahl

Hardly think Beckham-Miami is dead. This is Tim Leiweke ramping up the rhetoric to get a stadium deal done. https://t.co/yvqxnRfVpF

The franchise is working against somewhat of a ticking clock. Smiley noted MLS has a board of governors meeting at the beginning of December, by which time Miami Beckham United is expected to have the framework in place for a stadium.

MLS was willing to admit New York City FC into the league despite the fact the club is forced to play in Yankee Stadium until a new soccer-specific venue is built.

But that decision was met with strong public backlash and derision, and it continues to be a point of contention with many fans.

MLS may want to avoid a similar issue in Miami, thus putting the club's future in doubt without firm stadium plans.

Plus, the league already experimented with a team South Florida, the Miami Fusion. The Fusion folded in 2001 after hemorrhaging money. The club wasn't helped by having to play in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, which is roughly an hour north of Miami.

Sports fans in South Florida are notoriously fickle. The Marlins ranked 28th in attendance last year and have generally drawn few fans outside of their World Series-winning seasons. The Florida Panthers, who play in Sunrise, Florida, also struggled to draw much interest in the area.

That's why it's imperative Miami Beckham United hit the ground running, and without a soccer-specific stadium near downtown Miami, that may be impossible.


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