Tim Leiweke, a partner in David Beckham‘s Miami MLS expansion pursuit, recently expressed fears that the plan will not come to fruition.
Beckham and Miami Beckham United have been working for years to bring an MLS expansion franchise to Miami, where the group would construct a privately-financed stadium. In June of this year, the effort seemingly took a step in a positive direction when Miami-Dade County agreed to move forward with selling the group a three-acre land parcel needed to complete a stadium site in Overtown.
While that vote was a major step, it did not finalize a Miami MLS franchise. The group was given more than a year to complete the purchase of the county’s site, and a legal challenge against the county over the sale emerged shortly thereafter. Though a judge sided with the county, an appeal is expected. In addition, the group has not received final approval from MLS and the stadium is still subject to zoning and street closing approvals from the City of Miami.
In a recent interview, Leiweke expressed concerns that the deal will not be finalized. Speaking to The Toronto Sun, he stated “I have my fears as to whether it’s going to get done, because things like this drag on this long that’s always tough on a process. But for David I hope he lands somewhere.” More from The Miami Herald:
The uncertainty from the suit, coupled with a lack of final MLS approval, hinted at some potential trouble behind the scenes after years of fizzled deals and setbacks. Beckham and partners, including Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure, had been hunting for a majority investor to bankroll a rare sports stadium to be built without tax breaks, free land or local subsidies. In April, Todd Boehly, an owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, signed on as majority partner for the Beckham soccer venture. But it’s unclear whether he has fully committed to bankroll the effort, or whether the agreement rests on final MLS approval.
The comments from Leiweke, a longtime Toronto sports mogul, offered the first on-the-record signal of real trouble. He hinted at MLS resistance to granting the Miami franchise.
“It would be unfortunate for the league to not honor the job he did and the decision he made,” Leiweke said of Beckham. “His best work would still be ahead of us if we could figure out a way to get him involved with a franchise.”
“But our company has a lot of different projects,” Leiweke continued in the Sun interview. “I haven’t spent a lot of time on Miami lately so I’m not sure if that gets done. I hope it does for David’s sake.”
The legal challenge to the sale was filed by Bruce Matheson. Matheson, who owns property near the site, challenged the county in court by arguing that the land should have been put through a competitive bidding process. However, the court sided with the county’s argument that Florida economic development law allowed it to waive the competitive bidding process for a sale of public land in a transaction that provides economic benefit.
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