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Beckham’s MLS franchise suffers stadium site issues

By Matthew Campelli    02 Dec 2015
The former England captain's Miami Beckham United group will attend an MLS meeting on 5 December / Shutterstock.com

David Beckham’s proposal to launch a Miami-based Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise may be in jeopardy after struggling to pin down a site for the stadium.

Miami Beckham United (MBU), the investment group behind the franchise, had earmarked the district of Little Havana, but negotiations to purchase six private properties on the site have failed to reach a deal.

According to the Miami Herald, a deal to buy the majority of the city-owned site had been outlined, although the stadium cannot be built unless the company also acquires privately-owned surrounding apartment buildings, duplexes and a daycare.

Deals to purchase those properties are proving problematic with an MLS Board of Governors meeting on the horizon on 5 December. If MBU appears at the meeting without having secured the properties, or an alternative site, the franchise may struggle to get off the ground.

A spokesperson for the group said alternatives were being reviewed across Miami-Dade County.

“While Miami Beckham United is still hopeful we can secure the necessary private properties adjacent to the Marlins Park site (in Little Havana), we are faced with the fact that some owners are not interested in selling or are seeking completely unreasonable prices,” said MBU’s Tadd Schwartz.

“Fortunately, we have been receiving interest from a number of private landowners with sites across Miami-Dade County and we are now in the process of evaluating those alternatives.”

The Herald reports Miami commissioner Francis Suarez quoting Miami mayor Tomas Regalado as saying: “I believe the Beckham deal is dead.”

Suarez also said a 10 December vote on the stadium deal, and a following March referendum, had been cancelled as the prospect of building in Little Havana is being viewed as unlikely. However, the mayor refuted those claims.

“He [Beckham] may have an extension [on the site deal],” he said. “He may even have an agreement [following the governors meeting].”

In July, Beckham’s company believed it had secured the site, with the plan to build a 25,000 capacity stadium in time for a 2018 induction into the MLS.

Beckham’s fellow MBU partners are Bolivian/American telecoms entrepreneur Marcelo Claure, former Spice Girls manager Simon Fuller and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment chief executive Tim Leiweke.

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