SBD/October 31, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Beckham's Bid For Miami MLS Team Not Likely To Stop Orlando From Joining League

Beckham likely has until '17 to line up business partners and a stadium
David Beckham reportedly has decided to exercise his option for an MLS expansion team to be based in Miami, which led to some "speculation that a Miami MLS team might impact the Orlando City Soccer Club joining the league," according to Roger Simmons of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. However, it "appears there’s no need for the Lions’ futbol faithful to worry." MLS Exec VP/Communications Dan Courtemanche said, "We are working very closely with Orlando City’s ownership to finalize an expansion agreement to bring Major League Soccer to Central Florida. MLS plans to add four expansion teams by 2020, and discussions with other potential expansion markets have no impact on our plans for MLS expansion in Orlando" (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 10/30). In L.A., Kevin Baxter notes despite the failures of previous franchises in South Florida, MLS believes "things will be different" this time. Courtemanche said, "We know that Miami is one of the most passionate soccer markets in North America. We believe in Miami as a market." An ownership group headed by a celebrity such as Beckham "certainly won't hurt in star-studded South Florida." Baxter: "Just don't look for any of this to happen any time soon." After N.Y. and South Florida, the league's "next target is Atlanta, where MLS hopes to place a team" in the Falcons' new $1B downtown stadium. But the stadium "isn't expected to be ready before 2017." That gives Beckham "time to line up business partners ... and secure a stadium deal in a community still smarting over the fallout" from Marlins Park. Previous plans to place an MLS expansion franchise in Sun Life Stadium or at Florida Int'l Univ. "have not been met enthusiastically by MLS, which prefers more intimate soccer-specific stadiums" (L.A. TIMES, 10/31).
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