It’s Time for MLS to do the Right Thing – Give Miami a Team!April 28, 2017 byAdmin
February 5th 2014 was an amazing day for Miami soccer fans. David Beckham, Don Garber and Carlos Gimenez stood together with members of The Southern Legion and announced that David Beckham was exercising his option to own an MLS soccer team and was choosing Miami as the city to host the team. Despite the elation from a community that hadn’t seen division I professional soccer in over a decade, there was an ominous feeling hanging over Miami soccer fans at the clear distinction between exercising an option and being awarded a franchise. Most fans dismissed the oddity of a grand announcement for what seemed like a small step to being awarded an MLS franchise in Miami, since there was a sense of inevitability about the team’s progress. Little did we know, the decision to make a small announcement that day and not a big one would dog us for more than three years.
Major League Soccer enticed David Beckham to the MLS with a generous contract that included an option to purchase an MLS team after he retired at the then market value of $25 Million. Since then, the market value has increased to $150 Million giving Beckham a substantial discount. However, this discount appears to come at a price – David Beckham’s Miami franchise has been held to a nearly impossible standard of having an investor group, financing and location not only planned, but executed prior to being awarded a franchise.
To date, David Beckham has an investor group which includes Simon Fuller, Marcelo Claure, Tim Leiweke and now Todd Boehly. They have committed to their entry fee of $25 million dollars and purchased land for $18.95 million. They also have full financing for their plan with a strong investor group. Despite the unprecedented investment by an MLS bid group, Major League soccer continues to insist Miami Beckham United is still not ready for a franchise.
New York, LA, Orlando, Minnesota, Atlanta and San Jose have since entered the league paying the existing market rate entry fee and an expedited franchise entry. The same issues that have publicly vexed Miami Beckham United continue to be challenges for other expansion teams that have already been awarded teams. Orlando scrapped their planned location after being awarded a team and New York have yet to find a location for their team.
Bottom line, Major League Soccer needs to step up and award the franchise David Beckham optioned to execute from his contract. The league is playing a dangerous game with an amazing brand like Beckham and a great market like Miami. A competing team and league have already stepped into the void with Miami FC laying the groundwork for a top-level franchise with great ownership and an experienced front office. The shortsightedness of Major League Soccer to try and cheat Beckham out of an expansion team for another team that would pay more for entry is staggering. Additionally, forcing Miami Beckham United to invest substantially more in infrastructure and planning than any other team prior to entry is wrong and not befitting of a future partnership.
It’s time for MLS to step up and be the partner they promised Beckham and Miami they would be and award Miami a team. It’s time for MLS to do the right thing!