Beckham announces intentions to bring MLS team to Miami
FEB 05, 2014 1:33p ET
MIAMI -- David Beckham sees the Miami Heat as a franchise to emulate in his new career as a team owner.
"We will want to bring some of the best players in football, in soccer, to Miami to play on this team. I've seen what happens to teams when you bring great players in -- I'm talking about the Heat," Beckham said Wednesday morning, when it was announced he had exercised an option to purchase a Major League Soccer expansion team.
"When you look at a team like that, a franchise like that, you want success. You want people talking about the team. And yes, we will bring great players into this team."
Beckham was joined by MLS commissioner Don Garber and Miami-Dade County mayor Carlos Gimenez for the announcement at the new Perez Art Museum. The international soccer star's team would begin play in 2016 or '17.
The first order of business will be to secure a financing plan and location for a new stadium in an area where residents, at best, are hesitant to spend public funds.
No worry, says Beckham.
"We don't want public funding. We will fund the stadium ourselves," Beckham said to loud applause. "It's something that we have worked very hard to get to this stage where we can fund the stadium ourselves. We want to create a stadium, we want to create a soccer team, a football club, that is the people's football club. It's as simple as that."
Beckham and his group, Beckham United, reportedly prefer to build a stadium on a county-owned portion of Dodge Island right in the middle of Port Miami. The group has hired a Tallahassee lobbyist to seek a state sales-tax rebate that has been awarded to other sports teams in the past.
At the very least, the stadium will be downtown.
"The city of Miami and the people of Miami deserve a stadium that they're proud of," Beckham said. "They deserve a stadium that is in a great place. The commissioners, the board, the mayor has promised us ... I can say 'promise' I think .. that we will be downtown.
"I think it's important that we are in this part of the city because I've seen what (Heat owner) Micky (Arison) and his family have done with the Heat. I've seen the arena they've created, I've seen the buzz. And football fans, soccer fans, they love to commute, love to walk. I'm hoping that's the same in Miami."
The former Manchester United, Real Madrid and Los Angeles Galaxy star had the right to an expansion team at a discount fee of $25 million. His team would be the second time Miami participated in MLS. The Miami Fusion played in Fort Lauderdale from 1998-01 before folding because of low revenue and ownership reportedly lacked sufficient financial resources.
Beckham's business partners include his manager Simon Fuller and Miami-based billionaire Marcelo Claure. LeBron James, who has had conversations with Beckham, has been mentioned as a potential investor.
"They have the right guy in David," FOX Soccer analyst Warren Barton told FOX Sports Florida as he pointed to a throng of more than 200 media members. "Just look at this media gathering. Not many people could command that."
An enthusiastic group of fans attended the press conference waving blue towels with "MLS Miami" on one and "Southern Legion" on the other. The Southern Legion's purpose has been to support the new Miami MLS team.
"Miami is an international city and soccer is the international sport," said Joe Tubolowsky, of Kendall. "It's like eggs and ham -- they go together."
Beckham is counting on it.
"Miami is a vibrant city, a city with a lot of passion," Beckham said. "I know this city is ready for football ... soccer ... this time around. I know this is going to be successful."