BSP-02 Beckham set to launch long-sought Miami MLS club

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Beckham set to launch long-sought Miami MLS club

MIAMI, Jan 29, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Former England captain David Beckham will
unveil his long-sought Major League Soccer expansion team at a Monday news
conference in Miami, bringing a conclusion to a turmoil-filled four-year
quest.

MLS announced Friday it will “make a major announcement regarding the
future of soccer in Miami” on Monday, inviting ticketed members of the public
to what is expected to be the announcement of a 25th league club.

The team is expected to begin MLS play in 2020 at a 25,000-seat stadium to
be built in Miami’s Overtown neighborhood.

Just over 11 years after announcing he would leave Real Madrid for the MLS
Los Angeles Galaxy in a deal that included the chance to purchase an
expansion team at a reduced rate, Beckham will make good on plans he first
announced in February 2014.

Several failed stadium sites delayed his consortium’s efforts, other MLS
teams making their debuts while Beckham struggled to get his off the ground,
unable to find an agreeable place for a specially built venue.

The group edged closer to success last year after securing a land deal for
a proposed stadium project, waterfront sites and others near the Miami
Marlins baseball stadium and NBA Miami Heat arena having earlier fallen
though.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber said last month the Miami franchise project
was “the most complicated situation in any market that we’ve experienced”
because of the Miami area political structure and fast-changing real estate
environment.

Launch of the new Beckham-backed team will mark the second attempt to
start a Miami-based MLS franchise.

The Miami Fusion, which made their debut in the 1998 MLS season, played
for four seasons before being cut from the league after the 2001 campaign
amid low ticket sales and the lowest revenues of any team in the competition.

Beckham, 42, retired in 2013 after a 20-year career that saw him win
league crowns with Manchester United in England, Real Madrid in Spain, the
Galaxy in North America and Paris Saint-Germain in his farewell matches.

He also played for England from 1996 to 2009, winning 115 caps.

His five-year stint in MLS with the Galaxy boosted football’s profile in
North America and contributed to the steady growth in attendances across the
MLS.

When Beckham arrived in 2007, average attendances through the league were
16,770; when he ended his five-year stint they had increased to 18,807 per
game. By 2017, that number had increased to 22,113.

Beckham’s move to MLS was also followed by several high-profile European
stars nearing the end of their careers.

England teammates Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard both later moved to
MLS, along with Italy’s Andrea Pirlo and Spanish striker David Villa.

Announcing plans for his Miami team four years ago, Beckham said he had
already identified players who he hoped to lure to Florida.

“It would be disrespectful for me to say what players I want in the team.
But we have a list of players,” Beckham said in 2014.

“I’ve been fortunate to play with some of the best players in the world
and some of them are calling me up to ask me when Miami is happening.”

BSS/AFP/MSY/0945 hrs