Beckham's search for Miami soccer stadium approved

Tue Dec 17, 2013 6:59pm EST
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By Zachary Fagenson

MIAMI (Reuters) - Retired soccer star David Beckham and Major League Soccer (MLS) took a step toward fielding a new Miami team as local officials on Tuesday unanimously approved on-going efforts to find a suitable stadium location.

The vote by Miami-Dade county commissioners was the first test of political support for Beckham's soccer venture in Miami. The decision gave county officials authority to identify stadium sites and negotiate construction contracts with developers.

MLS, the top U.S. professional soccer league, has stressed the importance of having a final stadium deal, along with a business plan, before it will approve a new team.

"We can't go to Miami without the right stadium solution," MLS Commissioner Don Garber said during his state of the league address ahead of the MLS Cup final in Kansas City in early December. "David understands that, the city understands that, that is an indisputable fact," he said.

The former England team captain, who also played for the Los Angeles Galaxy, retired as a player in May but is seeking to exercise a $25 million option in his MLS contract to start a new franchise.

County officials say Beckham is interested in an urban setting near Miami's downtown, possibly on publicly owned land next to the port of Miami's cruise ship terminals, hoping the stadium would become part of Miami's tourism landscape.

Beckham's group is not looking for public financing, but may need to negotiate site plans with the county, such as leasing the port location, to help build a privately financed stadium.

Tuesday's vote was "a very positive step to bringing the world's most popular game to Miami," said a spokesman for the Beckham ownership group.   Continued...

Soccer star David Beckham (L) and his son Brooklyn watch the Los Angeles Lakers play the Miami Heat in their NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, California March 4, 2012. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson