SBD/November 19, 2013/Franchises

LeBron James Considers Joining David Beckham In Miami MLS Expansion

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James has gained an interest in soccer as minority Owner of EPL club Liverpool
Heat F LeBron James yesterday "confirmed he has interest in joining" David Beckham to bring an MLS team to Miami, according to Shandel Richardson of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. James said, "There's some interest on both sides. David has become a good friend of mine over the last few years. I think it would be great for this city to have a football club for sure. There's interest on both sides but it's preliminary talks." James added, "The research is still being made out. I think it could be huge. You never know. I think this is a great town for soccer." Richardson notes James' backing "could perhaps raise the profile of the venture." Beckham and James are "two of the most well-known athletes in the world," and James would bring the franchise "local credibility because he is easily the area's most popular athlete." James is "no stranger to the soccer world," as he is a minority Owner of EPL club Liverpool. James said that he has "gained an interest" in soccer since joining Liverpool, and the NBA has "no rule prohibiting players from owning pro sports teams in their own market" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 11/19). In Miami, Joseph Goodman writes for Beckham, having James "to market the MLS to Miami is just another important step in a very difficult and complicated process of making sure the product thrives in South Florida" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/19). In Ft. Lauderdale, Ira Winderman noted James could become a free agent in '14, and if his MLS plans "pan out, that's one more South Florida bond" for him, because "they don't have and aren't getting MLS soccer in Cleveland." L.A. already has two MLS teams, "which is why Beckham is looking elsewhere in the first place" (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 11/18).

STILL ISSUES TO DEAL WITH: ESPN’s Alejandro Moreno said James' potential collaboration with Beckham "gives credibility to MLS" and is "good news for Major League Soccer, it’s good news for a potential franchise in Miami." However, he cautioned there is "still a lot of work to do.” Moreno: "The challenges remain for Miami. This is an issue of creating a sustainable fan base and once you have a sustainable fan base then you have the stadium issues in south Florida. Those have been the challenges in the past for the Miami area and they will continue being the challenges going forward” (“ESPN FC,” ESPN2, 11/18).
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