Downtown stadium essential to MLS expansion in Miami
NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber said Friday a new downtown Miami stadium is essential to complete plans for an expansion team that would be owned by former English star David Beckham.
MLS announced plans for the team in February, but Beckham’s proposed Port of Miami site has run into opposition.
Garber, speaking during his annual meeting with the Associated Press Sports Editors, said the league doesn’t "believe any site other than the downtown site will work for us." But, he added, there are other waterfront sites "that might make sense."
Beckham had an option to buy an expansion team at a discounted price as part of contract to join the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007.
"There’s not a specific timetable in terms of days or weeks of months," Garber said. "But David has exercised his option. He has a period of time in which to finalize an ownership group, round out his ownership group and finalize a site, and we can’t let that option hang out forever."
New York City and Orlando, Fla., join the league next year, and Atlanta becomes the league’s 22nd team in 2017. No timetable has been set for Miami to start play.
Garber said the Atlanta team, which is headed by Falcons owner Arthur Blank, cost an expansion fee of $70 million — $30 million less than the price of New York City FC.
NYCFC will start play at Yankee Stadium and is searching for a site to build its own stadium.
"I won’t say there’s progress. There’s an enormous amount of activity," Garber said. "We hope sometime over the next year we’ll be able to announce that we’ve been able to put something together."
New stadiums also remain a priority for Chivas USA, D.C. United, New England. Chivas USA, which shares the StubHub Center with Los Angeles Galaxy, was bought by the league in February from Jorge Vergara and Angelica Fuentes, who have controlled the Mexican club Chivas Guadalajara since 2002.
"It was mispositioned in the marketplace. We had an ownership group that wasn’t local, that really had a different view as to how that team needed to be managed and how they were going to operate within the MLS structure," Garber said. "Everything was pretty wrong almost from the beginning. … From top to bottom, the brand was wrong. The positioning was wrong. I think some really bad decisions were made, including decisions that the league made."
MLS has retained Moelis & Co. to help find a new owner. Garber said the league remains interested in having a stadium at the University of Southern California.