It has currently been 10 months since David Beckham and representatives from Miami and MLS announced a new MLS team which would play in Miami with Beckham as an owner. Since then, it has not gone as planned for everyone involved.
Beckham has been trying to get a team in Miami for a while. A clause in his massive contract with MLS was that he was able to get a “discounted” rate to own an MLS team. As of now, the only thing that any of us know is that David Beckham owns an MLS team in Miami, Florida which has no stadium, no team offices, no players, no plan as to when they’re going to start play and quite possibly, David Beckham and his investors are the only people affiliated with this team.
There have been a couple plans for locations for stadiums. His bids for stadiums beside the Miami Heat’s NBA arena on the Miami waterfront as well as a site on a local island were both rejected. Now, MLS is beginning to put the pressure on Beckham to get things done.
In Don Garber’s “State of the League” Q&A, the MLS Commissioner expressed the desire of having to have a stadium in Miami before a team can be put there. On Miami, Garber said the following,
“We love Miami. There have been some pro sports struggles there, so people are questioning whether Miami can support an MLS team. I believe it can, but only if it has the right stadium. If we don’t have the right stadium, we’re not going to Miami, nor should we go to any market without the right stadium plan. Until we get [a stadium] finalized, we can’t make a commitment to go to Miami.”
“We know in Miami, if we don’t play in an environment that will be the center of what is happening there culturally, we will not succeed. We can’t go into a situation where that is up in the air because of our failure in the past. We were in the wrong spot, we were in that market, and we failed and folded a team!”
Garber is referring to the Miami Fusion from the early days of MLS and not wanting to repeat those mistakes. The Miami Fusion entered in MLS’ 2nd season in 1997 and, while they were a great team, were playing in Fort Lauderdale and didn’t really have a strong enough fanbase in the actual city of Miami to justify keeping a team there. After the 2001 MLS season, the league decided to contract Miami even though they had won the Supporters Shield and were ahead of their time in terms of the style of play other MLS teams had. The MLS Insider piece on the Miami Fusion is a must watch and Ray Hudson (yes, the magisterial, beIn Sports broadcaster) really built a great team.
Anyway, back to Beckham, while MLS is tightening the screws on the Miami MLS team, Beckham seems confident a deal can be done. A Beckham spokesperson said on ESPN FC, “Things are progressing well in Miami, and we are very much on track in our plans. David is very positive about the future of the club, and he continues to enjoy incredible support from the people in Miami. We hope to announce some exciting news soon.”
I have always said that the one big mistake was everyone having the initial announcement that there was going to be a team in Miami when nothing was set in stone. Apparently no one had heard of the cliche of “putting all of one’s eggs in one’s basket.” It just seemed like everyone from MLS was so blinded by wanting to desperately be with David Beckham that the two metaphorically “got married” too quickly and didn’t plan any of this out. The reason why stadium negotiations try to remain private as long as possible is because when it goes public, you are at the mercy of everyone to get a deal done. Land all of a sudden costs more. The city of Miami isn’t going to bend over backwards for Beckham because he’s already announced that Miami is getting a team and it would be bad PR for he and MLS to backtrack and go somewhere else. MLS is beginning to do that now to kind of get a deal done, but it would still look bad for MLS and Beckham if they made this big announcement about putting a team in Miami and then left to go somewhere else. It’s been 10 months and I have had just as much progress to get an MLS team up and running than David Beckham at this point. We’re running out of time before something needs to happen in one way or another.