Beckham eyes MLS stadium venues

Former England and Manchester United star David Beckham toured potential stadium sites in Miami on Wednesday, adding further speculation of his desire to own a future Major League Soccer franchise in the United States.

Since leaving the Los Angeles Galaxy in December, and retiring from the game after a subsequent five-month stint at Paris Saint-Germain, Beckham has been mulling over the location for his MLS franchise. The 38-year-old midfielder was spotted on Wednesday visiting the campus of Florida International University and Marlins Park, home of the Miami Marlins.

During his visit to Miami, Beckham reportedly met with Miami-Dade county mayor Carlos Gimenez and Bolivian-born billionaire Marcelo Claure, who posted a picture on Instagram with the retired footballer and Beckham’s business partner, Simon Fuller.

"An unforgettable night in my house in Miami," Claure wrote in Spanish, with the three men smiling together in the picture.

The option of becoming a team owner was included in the MLS contract Beckham signed when joining the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007.

”We know that Miami is one of the most passionate soccer markets in North America,” MLS Executive Vice President Dan Courtemanche told the AP last month. ”We have met with David Beckham regarding ownership of an expansion team, and we look forward to David one day owning an MLS club.”

There are currently 19 MLS teams, and league commissioner Don Garber hopes to expand to 24 teams by the 2020 season. A 20th team is already in place to begin playing in 2015 after Premier League club Manchester City and its partner, the New York Yankees, paid an expansion fee of $100 million to launch New York City FC.

The MLS still has to give Beckham the go-ahead to make Miami the location of the franchise.

Beckham is looking to raise several hundred million dollars of investment to fund the setup costs, including putting together the squad of players and building a stadium, although the franchise could initially play in an existing venue. In June, Beckham toured the Sun Life and Florida International University stadiums. Before deciding on Miami as the franchise location, Beckham explored options in other cities, including Montreal, San Diego and Orlando, the person said.

Miami has had a Major League Soccer team before. The Miami Fusion held matches in Fort Lauderdale from 1998 to 2001, before shutting down because of poor attendance.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.