Big news is coming to Miami. Late Monday the Daily Mail in England reported, with some certainty, David Beckham is in “final negotiations” to become owner of an MLS expansion team in Miami. This is nothing new. When the retired English star signed with the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007 he had a clause in his contract allowing him to buy a franchise with the league at a 25 percent discount. Most observers expected him to activate the clause once his playing days ended.
MLS already announced plans to expand the league, with South Florida a likely target. The Miami Herald reports Beckham and his investors remain in “serious talks” but nothing has been finalized. They are also reporting that there is a competing bid for the team. http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/10/02/3663306/david-beckham-group-still-working.html
Either way this would be Miami’s second shot at an MLS team after the Fusion were contracted in 2001. The climate for the league and soccer in general in America has changed in that time. The Fusion played their home games in Fort Lauderdale, whereas the proposed expansion team would likely call Miami its new home.
Miami’s rep is that it’s a bad sports town. A summer exhibition between Real Madrid and Chelsea in Miami drew 67,000 fans. It’s not a regular season MLS game, but it’s still a large figure. Turning American fans of soccer teams from Europe, South America and all points in between into MLS fans is an issue faced by the entire league, not only in Miami.
Surprisingly, Miami had the highest television rating for the U.S. National Team World Cup qualifier against Mexico outside of Columbus, Ohio, where the match was played. The 3.3 rating for Miami was higher than soccer hotbed Seattle (2.5)
Beckham, because of his panache, his celebrity, will help carry any endeavor in MLS in South Florida so it would have a tremendous chance of succeeding.
Even with Beckham’s name and brand recognition, his ownership group would have to do everything right to win over the hearts and minds of Miami soccer fans. Great location, great stadium, great views and a great product will all be required to make this a success.