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David Beckham awarded Miami MLS team, will begin play 2020

Michelle Kaufman and Douglas Hanks, Miami Herald on

Published in Soccer

He said he wants his team to be a combination of big names that fans recognize and young players who come through the team's development academy. There are plans to build a very large academy with multiple fields that can also be used for visiting national and club teams, and for tournaments. "The young talent that comes through our city, that is where we get our future players and fans."

A celebrity congratulations video shown at the ceremony included well wishes from tennis star Serena Williams, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, soccer star Neymar, runner Usain Bolt, and entertainers DJ Khaled, Jay-Z, Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez.

Among the guests in the theater were 150 members of the team's Southern Legion supporters group, who marched together from AmericanAirlines Arena to the event, unfurled a giant banner, and serenaded Beckham with a personalized-version of "Guantanamera": "One David Beckham, there's only one David Beckham, one David Beck-ham, there's only one David Beckham."

The gloomy weather wasn't ideal for the march, but that wasn't going to stop these diehard fans, who finally have a real team to support.

"We are so charged, so hyped that we haven't been able to sleep for two nights," said Julio Caballero, president and co-founder of the fan club. "Other people gave up, but we never did."

Max Ramos, another member of the group, added: "I was tired of going to commission meetings, tired of being a supporter of an idea. Now, I can support an actual team, and I can't wait to plan marches and tailgate parties. This is the day we've been waiting for."

 

Beckham was flanked by his ownership-group partners -- Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure, who had been trying since 2008 to bring MLS to Miami; MasTec Chairman and co-founder Jorge Mas and MasTec CEO Jose R. Mas, late additions to the group, but instrumental as they are deeply-entrenched in Miami; and Simon Fuller, entertainment entrepreneur and creator of "American Idol." Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son, who is also a part-owner, was not in attendance.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez and City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez were also part of the ceremony, which was emceed by Univision's Ramses Sandoval and live-streamed globally on MLSSoccer.com.

The team is expected to begin playing in 2021 at a 25,000-seat, $200 million privately-funded stadium to be built in Overtown, at the intersection of Northwest Sixth Street and Sixth Avenue.

Beckham initially dreamed of a waterfront stadium, and tried to cut a deal for a site at the county-owned Port Miami.

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