David Beckham Announces MLS Return to Miami

Now the hard work begins

David Beckham was officially awarded a Miami Major League Soccer team Monday after a four-year odyssey beset by more twists and turns than he ever imagined when he smiled at a bayside news conference on Feb. 5, 2014, and announced his plans.

The new team is scheduled to begin play in 2020, probably at a temporary site until the permanent stadium is ready in 2021. Hard Rock Stadium, FIU Stadium, and Marlins Park, were mentioned as possible temporary sites, or some combination of the three.

The team name, logo and colors will be rolled out in the next few months, with input from fans. There had been hints black and white would be in the color scheme, but owners said fans will be invited to suggest ideas via an international social media campaign in the coming weeks.

Beckham’s team became a reality at a glitzy noon ceremony at the Adrienne Arsht Center. An audience of 1,700 and 300 media members were on hand for the big moment, when MLS Commissioner Don Garber gave Beckham and his partners league scarves as a sign of the done deal. A special piece of music by Emilio Estefan played in the background.

“I promised my son, who is here today, that I wouldn’t get emotional,” Beckham told the crowd. “But it’s very hard.”

“Luckily, this four years of pain, at times, has taught me that sometimes you go through certain moments where it’s difficult,” Beckham told the Miami Herald minutes before the ceremony. “But there’s a reason why it’s taken this long. If I hadn’t gone through those times, I wouldn’t have met these guys [pointing to Miami co-owners Jorge and Jose Mas], guys who are passionate about this city and this sport. It’s like the weather [Monday]. You walk out the door and it’s raining, then you walk out another door and it’s sun. That’s kind of like the journey it’s been the last four years. There have been moments I got off a phone call and I’m excited and it’s happening, and I wake up the next morning and it’s all gone.”

Beckham confirmed he will oversee the soccer aspect of the team, and plans to be a very hands-on owner.

“Anything I do in my life — business, family, I’m in 120 percent,” Beckham said. “And that’s the only way I see to be successful. I’ve played this game for many years. I’ve been lucky to have played in some of the biggest clubs in the world, under some of the biggest managers, with some of the best players. So, my experience is in football, so that is what I bring this ownership group.

“I’m going to be spending a huge amount of time here. I love this city. I’ve gotten to know it even more over the past four years.”

Now the Work Begins

By Tuesday morning, it was back to work on their new team. So, what’s next now that the confetti are swept up and the glare of cameras is gone?

Sometime before the end of February, the team naming process will begin. Rather than name it themselves, the owners want input from fans, so they are planning a worldwide social media campaign inviting fans to suggest names. There will be a similar initiative to decide the team colors, logo and jersey design.

Will it be Miami United, a unifying message and homage to Beckham’s days at Manchester United? Or Inter Miami? AC Miami? Miami Vice? Or something different? The fans will help decide.

The owners are also close to securing a site for their Development Academy, which is a huge component in their plan. Mas said he expects to have a site in place “in three months.” Ideally, it would have at least 10 fields, requiring a large parcel of land.

Beckham said it is critical to have a successful academy, as the most successful teams in the world do. Young players join the academy as teens and are groomed with hopes they will someday play for the professional team.

“People talk about what players you want to bring in? What stars you want to bring in? Of course, we want to bring in stars, but more importantly for us is to get the academy up and running as soon as possible because we feel there is a hotbed of talent in young kids throughout the city and that’s what we want to go for,” Beckham said. “We want to create a soccer community, not just an MLS team.”

Co-owner Marcelo Claure said the work has just begun. “Mission accomplished — Phase One. But we are determined to kick a ball in 2020, so we’ve got our hands full the next two years.”

Miami Herald
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