Tim Leiweke, a former president of AEG and one of the leaders of the sports-business industry in the last 30 years, has reportedly agreed to join David Beckham‘s investor group seeking to bring MLS and a new stadium to Miami.
With crunch time approaching for a new-stadium plan, the addition of Leiweke is big: he brings decades of experience in both new-facility and business development to a group that’s not been successful over the past two years in bringing an MLS team to a desired Miami location. Besides the experience, there’s a familiarity here: Leiweke was at AEG when LA Galaxy signed Beckham to a groundbreaking deal that raised the profile of MLS around the world. That relationship is now full circle: it was that LA Galaxy contract that gave Beckham the option to buy an MLS expansion franchise at a discount — the option Beckham is exercising in Miami.
The timing is key: as noted, it’s getting down to crunch time on negotiations for a new Miami MLS stadium, which could be wrapped up before the end of the year.
According to sources close to negotiations, the newcomer to the investment group is Tim Leiweke, the president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which runs the Toronto Maple Leafs of the NHL, Toronto Raptors of the NBA and Toronto FC of MLS.
Leiweke, 58, is the former CEO and president of Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), the world’s largest owner of sports teams and sports events. Among the company’s holdings are the L.A. Kings, L.A. Galaxy, the Staples Center, StubHub Center, and the O2 in London. They also are part-owners of the L.A. Lakers, Houston Dynamo, and previously held ownership of the MLS clubs Chicago Fire, San Jose Earthquakes, NY/NJ MetroStars and D.C. United.
Leiweke brings 30 years of experience and sports business credibility to Beckham’s project. He was instrumental in bringing Beckham to play for the Galaxy, and remains close to the British soccer icon. Miami Beckham United spokesman Tadd Schwartz wouldn’t confirm Leiweke’s involvement, but sources said Leiweke has been meeting with Miami-Dade politicians over the past several weeks to accelerate the deal.