After four years of speculation, Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber, David Beckham and his ownership group, Miami Beckham United, presented Miami as Major League Soccer’s newest franchise city at the Adrienne Arsht Center on Monday.
“When I was awarded the team, there was only one city,” said Beckham. “Only one city, and it was here.”
The former soccer star described his efforts to bring an MLS team to the city as “a hell of a journey,” but Beckham didn’t endure this journey alone.
From the beginning, when Miami was named a candidate to host an MLS franchise in 2014, Sprint CEO and ownership partner Marcelo Claure believed that the group could bring a top-tier soccer team to Miami.
Claure said that the hope of bringing MLS to Miami had recently begun to fade.
“Sixty days ago we were done,” Claure said. “We gave up. We weren’t going to do this. So we met with David for breakfast in a hotel in New York City, pretty much to say goodbye. Then we look at each other and we said, ‘Man, we just cannot give up; we have to find a way to bring soccer to Miami.’”
Claure then reached out to Jorge and Jose Mas from MasTec, a multinational infrastructure engineering and construction company based in Coral Gables and the second-largest Hispanic-owned company in the nation, according to Hispanic Business 500.
A few weeks before, the Mas brothers emailed Claure saying that they wanted to talk about soccer. After gathering over dinner, Claure said they were on-board with the project.
Beckham and Claure found the local element they had been missing. As Claure put it, the Mas brothers were “the missing link.”
“I want everyone who is here, everyone who is watching, to learn a little bit about what makes Miami special, about what runs through the veins of a native,” said Jorge Mas, MasTech chairman.
Beckham, Claure, the Mas brothers, Simon Fuller and Masayoshi Son, who was the only absentee at the presentation, comprise the ownership of the soccer group.
Alongside the Miami Beckham United, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez and MLS Commissioner Don Garber were present at the Adrienne Arsht Center.
Suarez made sure to highlight to those in attendance that Miami is now one of 10 cities to have all five major sports.
Garber, who officially announced Miami as the 25th MLS club, took time to thank the fans for their patience throughout the process and expressed the significance of the announcement.
“[This is] a day that will go down as one of the really historic days in our league–[a] historic day in the history of sports in Miami and for soccer fans, not just in the city but throughout South Florida, because this will be a regional team, not just a local team,” he said.
Significant details about MLS’s expansion into Miami remain unfinished, however. The site for the privately funded soccer stadium, arguably the largest hurdle for Beckham and the ownership group, remains unresolved. The proposed area in Overtown, located at the intersection of Northwest Sixth Street and Sixth Avenue, is the most likely site for the brand new stadium, but the owners said they are still searching in other areas.
According to the MLS Miami ownership group, the team name, logo and colors will be developed with the help of fans, who will have the opportunity to contribute to the team’s design.
But fans will have to wait a couple more years to see action. Miami Beckham United made it clear that Miami will enter the league in 2020, while the stadium is expected to be ready by 2021.
The last time Miami witnessed local MLS was in 2001 with the Miami Fusion, which played four seasons in the MLS at the Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale before discontinuing in 2002.
While fans wait, Beckham promises to create an offensive-minded team comprised of homegrown talent and soccer stars brought from abroad.
Though Monday marked a significant step forward in bringing MLS to Miami, Beckham said that the real work just only begun.
“Wherever you are, wherever you come from in the world, this is a city that’s built on dreams,” he said. “Today, you have made my dream come true.”