David Beckham is a big step closer to bringing Major League Soccer back to Miami.
In a 9-4 vote Tuesday, Miami-Dade County commissioners decided to allow Miami Beckham United to buy three acres of county land, the final piece in a nine-acre plot on which a 25,000-seat soccer stadium is planned. It’s a big win for the English soccer icon, who has spent four years — and counting — trying to bring Miami an expansion MLS franchise.
“Miami is ready,” said Tim Leiweke, one of the partners in Beckham’s group. “We are committed. And the city and the county have now taken the necessary steps for us to control our own destiny for a privately financed, world-class soccer stadium for Major League Soccer.”
Beckham’s group will pay just over $9 million for the three-acre plot. It has already paid $19 million for the other six acres needed, and Leiweke said he’s hopeful a team could start playing in the stadium in 2020.
Now that he has the land, the process of actually getting the franchise should pick up considerable speed.
MLS officials will be in Miami on Wednesday to tour the planned site, and the league said it was pleased to see county commissioners ratify Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s recommendation to allow the sale.
“The process was lengthy, difficult, but necessary in order to ensure that Miami-Dade County taxpayers were properly compensated,” Gimenez said.
The vote was preceded by several members of the community urging commissioners to vote no, mostly citing noise and traffic concerns. A few supporters spoke as well, and many commissioners noted that the county will receive property tax revenue off the site going forward.
Beckham is not the only huge global soccer name pursuing MLS expansion these days; Landon Donovan, his former Galaxy teammate, has joined the ownership group that is hoping to bring a team to San Diego.
The victory for Beckham came just one day after San Diego’s City Council decided not to finance a special election that would have brought plans of building a new soccer complex there to a vote. Donovan says he will continue trying to get a team there.