Beckham and Miami on track for MLS franchise project
David Beckham’s business group has maintained his plan to secure a Major League Soccer (MLS) team for Miami will happen adding they hope to have “positive and exciting news” soon, while the former England captain and British business partner Simon Fuller have signed a “groundbreaking” joint venture with Global Brands Group.
The Miami Beckham United group needs to secure a stadium deal before it can win final approval for an MLS franchise, having confirmed its intention to launch an expansion franchise by 2017 in February.
MLS commissioner Don Garber said this week that Beckham’s Miami franchise remains uncertain amid the stadium deadlock. “If they don’t have the right stadium we won’t go there,” Garber said. “Until they get it finalised we can’t make the commitment to go to Miami.”
Scrutiny of sports stadium deals is an important political issue in Miami after anger over a reported $500m (€368m) of public money spent on the Miami Marlins MLB baseball team’s home ballpark contributed to the downfall of then Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez. Beckham has seen two proposed waterfront venues for a stadium in downtown Miami rejected by local politicians, but Miami Beckham United has said plans remain on course.
“The reality is that everything is progressing very well,” a spokesperson for Miami Beckham United told the Reuters news agency. “Miami is still David’s number one choice and it will happen. The fans and the people of Miami are behind us and we hope to announce some positive and exciting news soon.”
The MLS board of governors will hear a report from the league’s expansion committee on Saturday and Garber has indicated that they would aim to make some decisions on new franchises in the first half of 2015. The league will expand to 20 teams in 2015 with the addition of New York City FC and Orlando City FC, followed by a franchise in Atlanta and a second Los Angeles-based team to replace the defunct Chivas USA in 2017.
Garber has stated he wants 24 teams in MLS by the end of the decade and the league has recently held talks with potential ownership groups from Minnesota, Sacramento and Las Vegas. Garber added: “We have also been in discussions with San Antonio, El Paso and St. Louis. They are just not as far along for the next round.”
Meanwhile, Beckham and entertainment entrepreneur Fuller have partnered up with leading branded apparel, footwear, fashion accessories and lifestyle products company Global Brands Group. Hong Kong-headquartered Global Brands said the joint venture aims to drive the continued development of the brand in new consumer product categories and expand their interests by creating large scale global brands in partnership with a select number of “high profile iconic sports and entertainment stars” and rights holders.
Bruce Rockowitz, chief executive and vice-chairman of Global Brands Group, said: “With the glamour and celebrity that David brings to this joint venture, together with Simon’s remarkable business acumen and his many years as a successful entrepreneur in the world of sports and entertainment, I see an exciting future for our partnership in creating incredible brands.”
Beckham added: “I am thrilled to be partnering with Global Brands and Bruce on this exciting, first-of-its-kind joint venture which allows us to do something that no one has ever done before. Simon and I have worked together for many years, and nobody understands artists and rights owners better than he does. Together with Global Brands’ worldwide platform and Bruce’s passion for building successful brands, I am very much looking forward to the many exciting opportunities ahead.”