Stoppage Time: MLS commissioner Don Garber on David Beckham and Miami
The subject: MLS commissioner Don Garber has worked with David Beckham, Miami Beckham United and Miami-Dade County over the past few months to bring a MLS team to Miami. The diligence paid off on Wednesday when Beckham and Garber formally announced Beckham's decision to exercise his contractual right to invest in a MLS club and place the team in Miami, pending the approval of a suitable stadium plan and the MLS Board of Governors.
Garber spoke briefly with Inside MLS after the formal press conference about the development of the project over the past few months and the challenges that still lay ahead.
How have the past few months unfolded in the buildup to this announcement?
Garber: “David had until December 31 to exercise his option. We needed to pick a city. We needed to know it would be a place that would support our league and the goals we have. We've worked hard on a stadium site.
So we were all working hard together. There were a lot of meetings. David is a really focused guy. I think people would be shocked. He sat in conference rooms with pro formas, league financials and operating documents – all of the things any other owner would do. He convinced us that he's got a good vision for what he wants to achieve and a real passion to be a great owner."
What comes next?
Garber: “We have a lot of work to do on the stadium front. David has a lot of work to do. He has to finalize and round out his ownership group. He has to come up with a team name. He has to figure out how he's going to launch the team and figure out when they're going to start playing. But, most importantly, we have to really make progress on the stadium.
There have been a lot of discussions over the last month or so. [Miami-Dade County] Mayor Gimenez has been supportive. The [Miami-Dade County] commissioners have been listening. We have to listen what their issues are and then try to move the ball forward.”
How involved are you in those talks?
Garber: “We're always involved. The league is intimately involved in all aspects of what our clubs do, supporting them.”
And you've been down here often in support of this, right?
Garber: “Very quietly over the past six months.”
What sort of time line are you looking at from a league perspective?
Garber: “We haven't really set one up yet, but soon, soon. We have a lot of work to do in a short period of time, but there's nothing specific."
What sort of hurdles remain?
Garber: “The biggest hurdle they have is that they need to have a viable stadium plan. And they're making progress on figuring that out."
What does the Board of Governors need to see before it approves placing a team in Miami?
Garber: “An ownership group. We need to understand who David's partners are going to be. David is a substantial person in his own right, as is his partner, Simon Fuller. But they want to have another partner, somebody that could help lead this team, perhaps even locally. The league clearly needs to manage that. As importantly, we have to do the stadium project.”
“He will be a committed, local partner. He will do great things in this community. He will be laser-focused on delivering for this city a world-class soccer team that all of you can be proud of.”