MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – Hey South Florida, are you ready for some futbol a.k.a soccer ?
On Monday, Major League Soccer officially granted Miami an MLS expansion team.
“Today, you made my dream come true,” said International soccer superstar David Beckham during the event at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami Monday.
Beckham and his partners have been working on the franchise for the last four years. During that time, Beckham tried looking for a location near the Miami waterfront and another lot by Marlins Park. When that failed, another site in Overtown was suggested.
“Never give in and never give up and that’s what I did with this….The one thing that kept me going was you guys,” said Beckham referring to the fans in the auditorium.
CBS4 was told Beckham spent $9 million to secure the Overtown plot of land from the county.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber was among those who attended the announcement.
“It is with tremendous pride that we welcome Miami to Major League Soccer,” said Garber in a league release. “With David Beckham, Marcelo Claure, Jorge and José Mas, Masayoshi Son and Simon Fuller leading the way, we know the right people are in place and the time is right for Miami to become a great Major League Soccer city.”
“I have no doubt that this is a dream team,” Garber added during the event.
“Our pledge to our fans in Miami and around the world is simple: your team will always strive to make you proud on the pitch, our stadium will be a place that you cherish visiting, and our impact in the community and on South Florida’s youth will run deep,” said Beckham, who becomes the first former MLS player to own a team in the league.
“We’re here to make history together. We’re going to build one of the most successful franchises,” said Marcelo Claure.
But it almost didn’t happen.
About 60 days ago we were done so we met David in New York to say goodbye but we just looked at each other and we couldn’t stop trying to get Major League Soccer to Miami, said Claure.
“If it wasn’t for David, Jorge, and Jose we wouldn’t be here today,” he reiterated.
“Bringing an MLS club to Miami has been a hell of a journey,” said Beckham.
The name of the team, logo, and when it will debut in MLS will be announced sometime in the future.
There will be 23 MLS clubs this season, and the league is in the midst of trying to grow to 28 teams. Miami was long been considered the provisional 24th franchise, not having official status because of the stadium questions.
Those questions are now answered to MLS’ satisfaction.
Nashville was recently awarded an expansion franchise, and when that team and Miami commence play it give MLS four franchises in the Southeast portion of the U.S. — with those clubs joining Orlando and Atlanta.
MLS is planning to choose another expansion club in Cincinnati, Detroit, and Sacramento.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)