David Beckham has decided to pay a discounted rate of $25M to "start an MLS expansion team in Miami" after having the option of becoming a team owner included in the contract he signed with the Galaxy in '07, according to a source cited by Rob Harris of the AP. MLS "still has to give Beckham the go-ahead to make Miami the location of the franchise," and he currently is "looking to raise several hundred million dollars of investment to fund the setup costs, including putting together the squad of players and building a stadium, although the franchise could initially play in an existing venue." The source said that XIX Entertainment Founder Simon Fuller, who is both Beckham's agent and the "driving force in franchise negotiations, will be a significant shareholder" in the team. Beckham also is "looking to bring on board one or two further investors, having already had expressions of interest from businessmen globally, and hopes the team can be playing in three years" (AP, 10/29). In Miami, Michelle Kaufman cites sources as saying negotiations Beckham and investors look "very promising." But a Beckham spokesperson and sources said that "nothing is final." Beckham has "been approached by potential investors from all over the world about partnering on an MLS team, and Miami is the intended market because of its global appeal, passion for soccer, and its location as the gateway to Latin America." Beckham believes that high-caliber foreign players "could be lured to MLS with a Miami team." Brightstar Communications CEO Marcelo Claure is "among the potential partners with whom Beckham has had talks" (MIAMI HERALD, 10/30).
PITTSBURGH EYEING MLS: The USL Pro Pittsburgh Riverhounds yesterday announced that team Majority Owner Tuffy Shallenberger also has "become the majority owner of Highmark Stadium," where the team plays. In Pittsburgh, Nick Veronica notes the franchise "sees the move as another step on its quest to one day join" MLS. Riverhounds CEO & Dir of Youth Development Jason Kutney said, "In terms of making this jump and pushing ourselves in an alignment with the MLS at some point, we needed to make some changes on the ownership side." Kutney said that the team's average attendance in '13 was more than 3,000, and the stadium "can hold a maximum of about 4,000" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 10/30).