He’s battled the toughest players and tactical minds in world soccer. Now after years of frustration and complications over potential stadium sites, David Beckham has finally been awarded a Major League Soccer franchise in Miami.
The former Manchester United and LA Galaxy star appeared alongside MLS commissioner, Don Garber, at the Adrienne Arsht Center Monday where it was announced that the league’s 25th franchise would be based in the city.
Soccer fans, including many from the Colfax Realty team, cheered over the sounds of Gloria Estefan’s “Conga” Monday as they prepared for the official launch of the franchise, brought to the city by Beckham and his partners – Marcelo Claure, Jorge and Jose Mas, and Simon Fuller. The group was joined onstage at the Knight Concert Hall by Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.
“The thing that I know and the thing that I tell my children is that things get difficult sometimes,” Beckham said. “The one thing in four years that’s kept me going is you guys,” he added, in a nod to the horde of fans. “Our mission to bring an MLS club to Miami is now complete, and we are deeply satisfied, grateful and excited.”
“About 60 days ago, we were done. We were not going to do this,” he said, crediting the MasTec brothers Jorge and Jose Mas with being the missing link the franchise needed to move forward.
The 25,000-square-foot, $200 million stadium will be built on a nine-acre development site between Northwest Sixth and Eighth streets, north of the Miami River in Overtown. Three sites in Overtown were also pitched to Amazon for its second headquarters. Miami was announced as a finalist for the $5 billion development last week. A statement released on the MLS website revealed that the team will play in a privately developed 25,000-seat stadium within the city.
Some residents of Overtown, traditionally one of the city’s poorest and most underdeveloped neighborhoods, have objected to the proposed stadium on the grounds that there is no official provision for job creation in the immediate area.
But most businesses seem to welcome the prospect of a stadium in their midst. “Talk about stimulating the neighborhood,” said Luis García, whose family has run a seafood restaurant on the Miami River, three blocks south of the proposed soccer venue, since 1966. “I’ve got to believe that local restaurants and bar owners are going to benefit. Consider the demographics: We have the melting pot of Latin America. How come we haven’t had a major soccer team here?”
The new team is scheduled to begin to play in 2020, probably at a temporary site until the permanent stadium is ready in 2021. Hard Rock Stadium, FIU Stadium, and Marlins Park were mentioned as possible temporary sites, or some combination of the three.
The team name, logo and colors will be rolled out in the next few months, with input from fans. There had been hints black and white would be in the color scheme, but owners said fans will be invited to suggest ideas via an international social media campaign in the coming weeks.