David Beckham is “at the finish line” in his quest to obtain approval for a Major League Soccer expansion club in Miami, MLS commissioner Don Garber told the Miami Herald.
Beckham’s expansion bid is on the agenda at an MLS owners meeting on Wednesday in Chicago.
They could vote to approve the deal and end a saga of more than 3 and a half years during which Beckham has struggled to find a stadium site and secure the land for a venue to house the team his signing with the league in 2007 allowed him to own at a discounted rate of $25 million.
“We are at the finish line after nine years of work to be sure, if we go to Miami, we get it right,” Garber told the Herald on Tuesday.
“David had an option, but that option couldn’t be exercised without having him satisfy all the things that all team owners need to satisfy -– the right capital structure with his partners, the right stadium plan, the right marketing and business plans – and we’re at that point where I think we are getting ready to make the decisions internally to go forward.”
Garber did not say he expected full approval of the deal on Wednesday, when Beckham’s group will present the latest details of their privately funded $300 million Overtown stadium project to MLS owners.
While they could approve the deal as it stands and allow Beckham’s group to move forward, they might also approve it contingent on Beckham and his partners meeting more requirements, such as zoning changes that local government leaders must still approve.
“It’s a vote. Votes can go any which way,” Garber said. “We’re not there yet. I think we’ve got work to do.
“And perhaps, coming out of that board meeting is not an approval, but a handful of things that need to happen to get that approval – at which point, perhaps weeks later, we’re able to go down to Miami and talk about what our plans might be.”
That would string out the saga of Beckham’s quest to start an MLS team in Miami even more after failing to find a waterside venue, then having plans for a location near the Miami Marlins’ baseball park fall through.
The newspaper also reported some owners are not happy that Beckham’s co-investors are able to benefit from Beckham’s reduced MLS club entry fee at a time when MLS is asking $150 million from new investor groups.
Toronto joined MLS in 2007 for $10 million while Seattle and Philadelphia paid $30 million two years later and Vancouver and Portland paid $35 million to join in 2011.
Miami Beckham United hopes to have a 25,000-seat stadium completed in time to start the 2020 MLS season and possibly host 2022 World Cup qualifying matches.
The group recently paid $9 million for the final three acres of land it needed for the stadium site after having bought a six-acre parcel previously.