CHICAGO – Miami is inching ever so closer to a much-anticipated place in MLS.
Commissioner Don Garber told reporters before Wednesday night’s 2017 MLS All-Star Game that he expects David Beckham’s long quest to bring a team to South Florida to be finalized “perhaps by the end of the summer."
Beckham and partner Todd Boehly, the chairman and CEO of private holding company Eldridge Industries and part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, presented their expansion plan to the MLS Board of Governors on Wednesday, with the Board authorizing Garber and a committee of Board members to work directly with the prospective Miami owners to finalize the last details necessary to award them an expansion team. Garber said that could happen soon.
“They presented their plan and it was very well received,” said Garber, identifying Boehly as the majority investor. “There are still a couple of elements that we need to finalize before we're ready to have an announcement; we're not announcing MLS Miami today. But I am confident that we'll be able to do that some time, perhaps by the end of the summer.”
Miami’s quest for MLS began in February 2014, when it was announced that Beckham had exercised his option to own an expansion team and had set his sights on Miami. The process for finalizing a stadium plan in the city took several years, but the group eventually acquired a nine-acre site in Miami’s Overtown neighborhood, where they’re seeking to build a privately-funded stadium.
“We think the time is right finally for Miami to become a great Major Soccer League city,” Garber said.
If approved, Miami would be MLS’s 24th team. Groups in 12 other markets are currently vying for four other expansion spots, which will take the league to a total of 28 teams.
Two of those expansion teams will be announced by the end of the year, with Garber saying on Wednesday that he expects the Board of Governors to vote on the 25th and 26th clubs at their meeting at MLS Cup in December. The final two expansion clubs will be awarded at a to-be-determined date.