Beck­ham on brink of fir­ing up Mi­ami

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS -

MI­AMI — 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 on Tues­day.

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 nearly fouryear saga, 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.

“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. 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, and 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 pre­vi­ously pur­chased a six-acre par­cel.

David Beck­ham

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