MIAMI (AP) – David Beckham has exercised his option to purchase a Major League Soccer expansion team in Miami, and the deal with the former English national team captain will be finalized when he can secure a financing plan and location for a new stadium.
The latest development in the pursuit of a Miami team was announced by MLS Commissioner Don Garber at a news conference Wednesday. Beckham and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez also attended.
''Thank you for the warm welcome,'' Beckham told a crowd of more than 300 people, who attended the news conference at a downtown museum plaza on a sunny, 80-degree morning. ''This is an exciting time, and something were really looking forward to bringing to Miami.''
Beckham has scouted possible stadium sites and is seeking investors to assist with startup costs such as construction and player acquisitions. Among those who might become involved is Beckham's friend LeBron James, who has had recent conversations with the retired soccer star about bringing a team to Miami.
''We don't want public funding,'' Beckham said to applause. ''We will fund the stadium ourselves. We have worked very hard to get to this stage where we can fund the stadium ourselves. We want to create a football club that is the people's football club.''
The former Manchester United, Real Madrid and Los Angeles Galaxy star has the right to an expansion team at a discount fee of $25 million. MLS's Miami Fusion played in Fort Lauderdale from 1998-01 before folding because of poor attendance.
The crowd at the news conference included chanting fans, and several dozen photographers who jostled for pictures.
''People here love this sport,'' Garber said. ''We together have no doubt it will be a very successful MLS team.''