David Beckham's Bidding Group Undergoes Shakeup With Todd Boehly Out, Mas Brothers In
The investors behind David Beckham’s bid for a Miami soccer stadium have "undergone a significant shake-up," with majority partner and Dodgers co-Owner Todd Boehly out and Miami moguls Jorge and Jose Mas "joining the venture," according to sources cited in a front-page story by Kaufman & Hanks of the MIAMI HERALD. News of the shake-up comes days before the Beckham group "hopes to finally win approval" from MLS owners to grant Beckham an expansion club. The move means Beckham has "parted with the latest in a series of would-be top investors," as Boehly was "slated to be the majority owner and controlling partner" of the club. However, in the Mas brothers, Beckham "gains as partners two of the most prominent business executives in Miami." The arrival of the Mas brothers follows Jorge Mas "losing out to Derek Jeter and partners in a bid to purchase" the Marlins earlier this year. Kaufman & Hanks note Boehly stepped in to "much acclaim in April as the deep-pocketed investor that Beckham and partners said they needed to finalize their Miami stadium venture." However, it was "never clear if Boehly had locked in his backing, and MLS owners have yet to fully endorse Beckham’s Miami plans." It is "not clear now who the majority partner would be." A source said that Sprint President & CEO Marcelo Claure, a member of Beckham's group, had recruited SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son, one of the wealthiest men in Japan, to "join Beckham as a partner" (MIAMI HERALD, 12/13). Sources said that the ownership structure proposed by Boehly "didn't sit well with MLS." ESPN.com's Jeff Carlisle noted there has been "pushback among MLS owners" over Beckham's discounted $25M expansion fee, and the sight of Boehly becoming the majority owner "gave the impression he was getting the franchise on the cheap." The league also "wanted a larger local presence" (ESPN.com, 12/12).
NOTHING IS GUARANTEED: Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville and Sacramento are the finalists for the two expansion spots expected to be announced later this month, and MLS Commissioner Don Garber said that one of the two bids selected could "begin play a year earlier than anticipated and a third team could even be chosen at some point." Garber acknowledged it is "conceivable" that one of the teams could leapfrog Miami to begin play in '19 or that a third team could be selected to take Miami’s spot in the expansion pecking order. In Cincinnati, Steve Watkins noted MLS has been "treating Miami as its 24th team to begin play" in '19, but Beckham's plan has "been in flux over the past couple of years." Garber: "I continue to say we want Miami in the league. It’s a large market, a gateway city. There are a lot of values to us having a team down there, and I remain confident we’ll get something done" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 12/12).