The Soccer Desk

David Beckham, Don Garber Announce 22nd MLS Franchise In Miami

Beckham

At 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning, MLS Commissioner Don Garber and new franchise owner David Beckham addressed the crowd at the Perez Art Museum in Miami with the news that a 22nd team would join the ranks of the MLS in the coming years.

Exercising his option to purchase a new MLS franchise, Beckham chose the Miami-Dade area for its diversity and passion for the sport. Having already been once a host to an MLS club, the Miami Fusion based out of Ft. Lauderdale, first division soccer returns to South Florida with a renewed vigor and drive to succeed behind the Englishman’s direction.

Don Garber thanked Mr. Beckham and Miami Mayor Carlos Gimenez, saying that Mr. Beckham will have a “lazer-like focus” to deliver a quality experience to soccer fans and the community alike.

Mayor Gimenez praised the return of “the world’s hottest sport to the world’s hottest city”, citing increased viewing numbers for past World Cups as well as high attendance figures in the area for international friendlies of national teams and clubs. The vibe was hopeful and excitable as the Mayor continued to praise Mr. Beckham’s efforts, welcoming professional football back to Miami by one of the sport’s consummate professionals. He welcomed Mr. Beckham, his wife, and his family to the community.

When asked why Beckham chose Miami, he immediately responded “why not?” He desires to create a new club, a new team, and a new supporter base from scratch. His aim is to make the club his own with the help with his ownership partners. He said that the city was vibrant and passionate and that, this time around, professional football will work.

Don Garber fielded more questions from the crowd, again praising Beckham’s focus and dedication not only to this new franchise but to his other charitable efforts, citing a trip to the Philippines that he will take subsequent to the announcement Wednesday.

Mayor Gimenez then took the stage to field questions regarding their new stadium. While in the initial details such as a building site are not solidified yet, the Mayor assured onlookers that the future stadium will be built in the right place and be constructed as quickly as possible. With city commissioners in the crowd, there is obvious political support for the new club and its endeavors. When asked about funding for a new stadium, Mr. Beckham was vehement in that he wants it to be privately funded. While some public support will be needed in the form of council votes and compliance and public funds for land, stadium funding would be provided solely by the owners. Miami’s goal will be to build a “deserving” stadium in the downtown area.

As far as the timeline for constructing a successful club is concerned, Beckham said that there will be road bumps and struggles as with any football club. He reaffirmed that he will make Miami a global club and that his priority is to grow interest in the sport and the club before any financial concerns. Beckham aims to bring a lot of international talent to the club to match the city’s cultural diversity as well as to give the club the star power that he feels it deserves. In another nod to his commitment to community, Mr. Beckham announced that he would found an academy to develop younger talent from the South Florida area.

Both Mr. Garber and Mr. Beckham expressed genuine hope that new clubs such as those in Miami will only increase both the United States’ and Canada’s national team profiles and quality. Mr. Garber was especially excited by the prospect of Canada qualifying for their first World Cup since 1986 through the efforts of MLS development.

At the end of the Q&A session, the feeling around the press conference was excitable with lots of news and plans around the future MLS franchise. While the execution of the ideas in the announcement haven’t come to fruition yet, the support is there. Supporters group The Southern Legion could be heard with chants of “Thank You, Beckham” and “We Are Going MLS” at the top of their lungs. David Beckham has given the city of Miami a second chance and a renewed lease on their soccer lives. Now it is up to the city, the supporters, and especially the legendary David Beckham to make those renewed dreams a reality.

Keep your eyes tuned on The Soccer Desk for developing news as Miami develops their plans and creates the 22nd MLS club.

Photo courtesy of the Miami Herald