The long wait is finally over: Major League Soccer on Monday officially granted Miami an MLS expansion team.
The announcement was made at an event held in Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center, featuring the club's ownership group comprised of local and global entrepreneurs who have an agreement in place to build a world-class soccer stadium: global soccer icon and former MLS player David Beckham; Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure, SoftBank board member and longtime Miami resident and entrepreneur; Jorge and José Mas, the Miami-based leaders of telecommunications and construction giant MasTec; Masayoshi Son, founder and CEO of SoftBank; and entertainment entrepreneur and manager Simon Fuller.
“It is with tremendous pride that we welcome Miami to Major League Soccer,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a league release. “With David Beckham, Marcelo Claure, Jorge and José Mas, Masayoshi Son and Simon Fuller leading the way, we know the right people are in place and the time is right for Miami to become a great Major League Soccer city. This ownership is committed to bringing Miami the elite-level soccer team, stadium and fan experience it richly deserves. We look forward to working with the entire organization on a strategic and successful launch for Miami’s MLS club.”
The path to Monday's announcement was initiated more than a decade ago, when Beckham joined the LA Galaxy in 2007, securing the opportunity in his contract to own an MLS club following his playing career. In February 2014, Beckham exercised that option to own an expansion team and the ownership group successfully finalized its stadium plan last year.
“Our mission to bring an MLS club to Miami is now complete, and we are deeply satisfied, grateful and excited," said Beckham, who becomes the first former MLS player to own a team in the league. "Our pledge to our fans in Miami and around the world is simple: your team will always strive to make you proud on the pitch, our stadium will be a place that you cherish visiting, and our impact in the community and on South Florida’s youth will run deep."
Miami’s team will begin play in 2020, Garber confirmed after the event, with plans to play in a temporary venue for one season before opening a new, privately developed, 25,000-seat stadium in the city’s urban core in 2021. The stadium will be designed by Populous, the global firm that has worked on many of the top soccer venues around the world, including the creation of MLS stadiums in Houston, Kansas City and Colorado, along with Audi Field (opening this year in Washington, D.C.) and Allianz Field (opening in Minnesota in 2019).
In addition to the stadium, Beckham, Claure, the Mas brothers, Son and Fuller plan to build a privately-developed training center and an academy focused on developing local players.
“Today is a proud day for Miami, and for our family,” said Jorge Mas. “This is the first step in our quest to build one of the top clubs in MLS and the Americas. Our club will be innovative, and our stadium will deliver a world-class experience from the time fans leave home until the conclusion of the match. We will be relentless in our goal to win MLS Cup and other trophies. Our club will have a global vision but our fans in South Florida will always be our first priority reflecting the best of our community.”
One of the most culturally diverse markets in the world, South Florida is the largest metropolitan area in the Southeastern United States and has a proven and passionate fan base for soccer, drawing large crowds for multiple soccer events. Nielsen also ranks Miami-Fort Lauderdale as the 16th-largest television market in the US, and it is one of the strongest for soccer, with the area consistently ranking among the top markets for FIFA World Cup viewership.
Additional news and information on the club – including team name, logo and staff – will be announced in the future. More information on Miami’s new MLS club can be found at FutbolMiamiMLS.com. Fans can also connect with the club on social media via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube at @FutbolMiamiMLS and using the #FutbolMiamiMLS hashtag.