Beckham clears another hurdle in Miami MLS team bid

Wednesday, 07 Jun, 2017

Over four years since first announcing his intentions, Beckham's team finally secured approval from Miami-Dade commissioners-a 9-4 vote-to purchase the final three acres of land needed to build a 25,000-seat open-air venue in Overtown at a cost of $9 million.

The deal that allowed the Miami Marlins to get a new taxpayer-built baseball ballpark on the former Orange Bowl site is still a source of major contention for the city and the county.

The land deal is a major development in what has been at times an arduously slow - and often frustrating - process for Beckham in his quest to bring a franchise to Miami.

But finding suitable land in crowded Miami proved hard. The next step in Beckham's plan is to actually build the facility, which will be privately financed. At a recent town hall at the Overtown YWCA, Tim Leiweke, who brought Beckham to the LA Galaxy and joined Miami Beckham United, had said the plan called for the stadium to open in 2021.

FILE - In this February 5, 2014, file photo, former English soccer star David Beckham, third from left, poses with MLS Commissioner Don Garber, left, Miami-Dade County mayor Carlos Gimenez, right, and soccer fans with the Southern Legion at a news conference where he announced he will exercise his option to purchase a Major League Soccer expansion team, in Miami. "We look forward to working with the Miami community to bring our vision for the neighborhood to life".

The following is the full statement from Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez regarding the Commission's approval of the land sale. "There are a significant number of concerns that the residents have about having the stadium there. Right now, we just don't know".

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The stadium would be the economic driver in the neighbourhood as Overtown is known to have endured economic difficulties.

But Hardemon is skeptical as on that front well, adding: "I don't believe that, necessarily, a stadium will revitalize an area".

Miami already has championship-winning teams, such as the Miami Heat, Miami Dolphins, and Miami Marlins.

Even with his status as a soccer icon, Beckham has struggled to find a location for his prospective MLS franchise. The city is also now home to Miami FC, which began play in the second-tier NASL a year ago, playing home games at Florida International University.

With MLS expansion to 28 teams planned by 2020, there's still plenty of room in the league for a Miami franchise, but they'll need to hurry on construction for an entry date in 2019, following Los Angeles FC. Donovan says he will continue trying to get a team there.