MIAMI: After two years of frustration and failure, retired English star David Beckham’s Major League Soccer expansion group announced on Friday (Saturday in Manila) it has secured a stadium development site northwest of downtown Miami.
Miami Beckham United has a contract to buy the property in Overtown, near a major interstate highway and the Miami River, and the final crucial roadblock appears to have been overcome in returning top-level football to the region.
“We intend to create an assemblage of private and County-controlled land totaling approximately nine acres in Miami’s urban core, within walking distance of multiple public transit options and the up-and-coming Miami River District,” Beckham’s group said in a statement.
“The private properties, which comprise the majority of the land, are under contract and we intend to purchase the County land at fair market value pending approval of our site by the MLS Board of Governors.”
Beckham’s group originally targeted two possible stadium waterfront venues, but both were non-starters with the city.
The city pushed a stadium site near the home ballpark of baseball’s Miami Marlins but that fell through when Beckham’s group could not buy the necessary land because some owners would not sell, setting the stage for the Overtown move.
“We appreciate the support and patience of our fans who share David’s dream of fielding a world-class soccer club in Miami,” the statement said. “We’ve never been closer to making that vision a reality.”
A day after MLS commissioner Don Garber admitted he was frustrated by the Miami situation and stressed the need for a deal to be done soon, the Beckham group handed MLS directors a deal they likely cannot refuse to permit Miami to become the league’s 24th franchise.
Exactly when the club would begin play remains undecided, although it could become clearer after the board of governors meets in Columbus this weekend ahead of the MLS Cup final between the Columbus Crew and Portland Timbers.
“As we have said, this will be the most responsible stadium development in Miami history,” the Beckham group’s statement said.
“Construction of our venue will be privately financed and we will work with Miami-Dade County Public Schools to establish our club as an educational resource for the community. We will also engage nearby businesses and residents as we develop our stadium design and take steps to enhance the neighborhood.”