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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

But some key members of the cruise industry blocked that proposal, leading to another failed waterfront bid for a stadium at the boat slip next to AmericanAirlines Arena. Plan C was adjacent to Marlins Park in Little Havana, but that didn't work out, either. So, Beckham's group settled on the Overtown site a few blocks from the Miami River.

Bruce Matheson, a wealthy landowner whose years-long legal battle with the Miami Open tennis tournament led to its leaving its 30-year-old Key Biscayne site in 2019 for Hard Rock Stadium, is suing to overturn the no-bid county deal for Beckham's Overtown stadium.

The stadium is being designed by Kansas City-based Populous, a global architectural firm that specializes in the design of sports stadiums and arenas. The firm is responsible for more than 18 Major League Baseball ballparks, including Marlins Park, Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Coors Field in Denver, and Progressive Field in Cleveland. They also have designed NFL and NBA venues, and soccer stadiums all over the world.

Jorge Mas said there are plans to have a fan plaza outside the stadium, and a March to the Match along the Miami River, similar to the pre-match march Sounders fans do in Seattle. He said they are exploring options for parking, and Claure, who is on the Board of Directors of Uber, suggested that he will use that connection to facilitate share-rides to the stadium.

Beckham, 42, becomes a team owner as part of the player contract he signed with MLS in 2007. The deal stipulated that after he finished playing for the Los Angeles Galaxy, he would have the chance to purchase an expansion team at a reduced rate. Sources said Beckham and his partners paid between $50 million to $75 million for the team. Other recent expansion fees have topped $100 million.

When Beckham joined MLS, the league had 12 teams. It has doubled. The average attendance in 2007 was 15,504 and has increased 42 percent to 22,106. Beckham is credited with raising the profile of the league, and the addition of his Miami team is expected to expand the league's global reach.

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"The passion exists for this team," said Jorge Mas. "This is a community of Colombians, Brazilians, Venezuelans, Argentines, Cubans, Mexicans, this is a global mosaic of cultures with a passion for soccer. We want to create an atmosphere that feeds off that passion, with the beat of the drums, and the celebrating before and after games. I think there are more soccer fans here than of any other sport. I think we will not only fill the stadium, but have the best atmosphere in the whole league."

(c)2018 Miami Herald

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