David Beckham’s plans to launch a Major League Soccer franchise in Miami have been delayed while the franchise seeks approval to build a stadium, a situation Beckham called "frustrating" in an interview with the BBC.
"Delays are always frustrating," Beckham said. "To get it right, sometimes there are delays. We will get it right and it will happen, but it's taken a little bit longer than we thought."
Beckham added that an announcement on a stadium project should be coming within “the next couple of months.”
The right to own an MLS expansion club was included in the contract Beckham signed with the LA Galaxy in 2007. He retired in 2013 and announced plans to operate a franchise in Miami in February 2014. But MLS refused to approve the expansion without plans for a stadium and Beckham's group has been trying to secure plans for a facility ever since.
Miami city officials rejected a plan last summer for a 25,000-seat soccer stadium next to American Airlines Arena, the home of the NBA's Miami Heat, after an initial proposal for a waterfront site was strongly opposed by cruise lines operating in the city.
The climate for stadium proposals in Miami is delicate after the city's decision to provide $500 million in public funding to build Marlins Park for the city’s Major League Baseball franchise.
Beckham’s group, Beckham Miami United, is proposing to finance $250 million for a stadium and to pay rent on publicly owned land.
MLS commissioner Don Garber has been steadfast in his assertion that without a downtown stadium, the league will not expand to Miami.
Miami mayor Tomas Regalado and the city council have reportedly made an offer to Beckham Miami United for the temporary use of the football stadium at Florida International University—15 minutes from downtown—while details for a permanent home for the club can be ironed out.
There is not a firm deadline for Beckham’s group to get a stadium deal done, but MLS officials have met with groups in Las Vegas, Sacramento and Minneapolis, with St. Louis and San Antonio also in the mix.
MLS wants to expand to 24 teams by 2020. The league currently has 20 clubs, with teams in Los Angeles—its second—and Atlanta to begin play in 2017.
Las Vegas and Sacramento already have downtown soccer stadium plans approved.
- Phil Watson