For Beckham, it's Miami or bust; Las Vegas not an alternative option under his deal

Wednesday April 5th, 2017

Despite three years of frustration and failure at three potential stadium sites (plus lengthy delays at a proposed fourth), MLS still hasn’t given up on David Beckham and Miami. Representatives from both sides continue to talk. Speculation ramped up last month, however, when the Oakland Raiders’ plan to move to Las Vegas was approved by the NFL. Beckham made in appearance in Vegas last April to tout the construction of a new stadium there and said, “To bring a great organization like the Raiders is incredible, but it’s bigger than that. It’s about the MLS coming here. It’s about bringing in the biggest European teams like Manchester United.”

It’s no coincidence that Beckham has a business relationship with Las Vegas Sands, whose chairman, Sheldon Adelson, was involved in the initial Raiders stadium effort. He’s since pulled out, however, leaving Beckham’s connection to Vegas more tenuous. Nevertheless, Beckham’s troubles raised questions concerning the future of the franchise he’s already purchased from the league. Could he abandon Miami for Las Vegas?

The answer is no, unless he were to work out an entirely new deal with the league.

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The discounted franchise he purchased under the terms of his initial playing contract is valid only for the city he and MLS agreed upon. That’s Miami. If Beckham wants to pull out, it’ll cost him dearly. In addition, he’d have to want to go to a city that interests MLS, and there’s no reason to conclude Vegas is such a place. It’s barely a top-30 market (it ranks 29th in population, just below Cincinnati), has no history of supporting major pro sports and now suddenly will be saturated by NFL and NHL teams.

MLS has better options, meaning Beckham’s best chance to become an owner remains in Miami. MLS commissioner Don Garber has said there’s a deadline, but he hasn’t offered specifics. The league’s board of governors is scheduled to meet April 24 in Colorado Springs. Expansion is always on the agenda. A few days ago, MLS probably figured it had three teams to award. Now it’s four. And if Beckham can’t work things out, the board may decide it’s five.

Beckham's group released yet another optimistic statement at the end of February:

"Miami Beckham United is 100 percent committed to Miami, and we will continue working with Major League Soccer and Commissioner Garber as we finalize the launch of our world-class club. We have long viewed South Florida as prime territory for MLS expansion, and we see a tremendous opportunity to build our club's brand in this market while attracting top talent from around the world. We're making progress toward our goal of fielding a team in 2019, and we appreciate the strong support of our fans as our kick-off draws closer."

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