MIAMI--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Major League Soccer today announced that David Beckham has exercised his option for an MLS expansion team, and he has selected Miami as the city for the new club. Beckham’s ownership group will now work with MLS and local officials to finalize a deal for a world-class soccer stadium.
“We appreciate all that David has done as a player, an ambassador and as a global icon to help grow Major League Soccer,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said. “We are thrilled that he will be an owner, and we look forward to him helping us achieve our goal of being one of the top soccer leagues in the world.”
“From the beginning of my career in England to today in Miami, my journey has always been driven by my incredible passion for the game,” said Beckham. “Miami is a vibrant, diverse community that thrives on the same type of energy that fuels the international appeal of soccer, and I look forward to a dedicated, long-term partnership with this dynamic city and Major League Soccer. My experience with the Galaxy is what convinced me that I wanted to one day own an MLS team and it is thrilling to now see that dream coming true.”
Beckham became Major League Soccer’s first Designated Player in 2007, and led the LA Galaxy to two MLS Cup titles during his six seasons in the league. During his time with the Galaxy, Major League Soccer experienced explosive growth, adding seven expansion teams and nine soccer stadiums. Beckham finished his career with another championship in 2013 with Paris St. Germain, ending a 20-year playing career that saw him star for Manchester United, Real Madrid and A.C. Milan, as well as England’s national team. Beckham will become the first former MLS player to own a team in the league.
One of the most international markets in the world, South Florida is the largest metropolitan area in the Southeastern United States with a proven and passionate fan base for soccer. During the last few years, multiple crowds of more than 60,000 per game have attended international soccer matches in South Florida.
“Miami is a unique melting pot of cultures that is brought together by one common thread, soccer,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez. “During the last several months there has been palpable excitement in our city when people talk about the possibility of a Beckham-owned team. Today’s announcement is celebrated across Miami.”
Beckham and his representatives plan to build a stadium for the new team, and they continue to have productive conversations with Mayor Gimenez and the Miami-Dade County Commission regarding a world-class stadium for the community of Miami. Because of the importance of the stadium, an agreement for a new stadium must be finalized in order for MLS to come to Miami. Beckham has pledged that he will not seek County or City funds for the construction of the stadium.
Beckham’s ownership group includes David’s business partner and long-time friend Simon Fuller. The remainder of the ownership group will be finalized over the next several months.
"I can remember so well my discussions with David back in 2007,” said Fuller. “The vision was for David to play in America and to help the sport that he loves to grow in popularity. It was central to our plans that one day David would own his own team. Here we are, February 2014 in Miami, the dream is now a reality and the commitment to grow the sport that he loves continues."
Major League Soccer, which begins its 19th season on March 8, currently features 19 clubs, with expansion teams in New York City and Orlando set to begin play in 2015. The League is scheduled to add three more expansion teams by 2020, including the Beckham team. Miami would become home to one of those three expansion teams pending finalization of a new stadium.
About Major League Soccer
Headquartered in New York City, Major League Soccer is the top-flight professional soccer league in the United States and Canada. MLS features many stars from the U.S., Canada, and around the world. Major League Soccer’s 19th season begins March 8. The League’s 19 clubs for 2014 include the Chicago Fire; Chivas USA; Colorado Rapids; Columbus Crew; D.C. United; FC Dallas; Houston Dynamo; LA Galaxy; Montreal Impact; New York Red Bulls; New England Revolution; Philadelphia Union; Portland Timbers; Real Salt Lake; San Jose Earthquakes; Seattle Sounders FC; 2013 MLS Cup Champion Sporting Kansas City; Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Expansion teams New York City FC and Orlando City Soccer Club will begin play in 2015. For more information about MLS, log on to www.MLSsoccer.com.