According to two sources, Beckham’s people have explored the option of using Marlins Park as a temporary home until a permanent stadium is built. Scheduling would be difficult, as MLS and MLB play in the summer, and the field would have to be reconfigured. But the location and amenities are attractive.
Meanwhile, a London-based investment group led by Italian financier Alessandro Butini is also making a pitch. Butini is partnering with the University of Miami School of Architecture to develop ideas for a viable soccer-specific stadium, and launched a website — MIA4MLS.com — to drum up fan interest.
Butini had an exploratory meeting with MLS commissioner Don Garber in New York early this year and Garber told him a soccer-specific stadium in the right part of the city was paramount for a successful bid. Butini said his plan would include a privately funded stadium.
His partners include Marco Novelli, who has been successful in real estate ventures, and Suzie MacCagnan, a former New York financial advisor who more recently has brokered deals between foreign investment groups and English Premier League clubs.
“Commissioner Garber told me the stadium is the biggest variable, the No. 1 priority, so I am tackling that issue head on,” said Butini, who gave a presentation to UM architecture students and a few local architects on Monday.
“MLS is looking for an 18,000- to 20,000-seat venue with covering for the fans, good drainage, FIFA compliant, luxury suites, and first-class media facilities,” he said. “I told the UM students we’d be looking at a $70 million budget for a project like this, knowing that it would likely cost closer to $85 million.”
The UM students will present their final project in early December.
MLS is hoping to add four more teams by 2020. A New York City team owned by the New York Yankees and Manchester City, an English soccer club, will join in 2015. Groups in Orlando and Atlanta are also lining up bids, with Orlando in the lead.
Orlando City SC is set to join MLS after Orange County commissioners voted last week to direct $20 million toward the construction of a new 20,000-seat soccer-specific stadium. MLS president Mark Abbott said last Monday that Orlando will be awarded a team shortly after the stadium deal was finalized.
And so, South Florida fans will sit and wait for Beckham’s next announcement.
“I am excited about owning a team . . . continuing to be part of the MLS in the future,” Beckham said last week. “Miami excites me because I think it’s a city that is very excitable. I’ve been to watch the basketball there. I’ve seen the [NFL’s Miami] Dolphins play. It’s a city where the people in the city love their sport.”
Question is, will they love MLS?
“Can Beckham make this work? Yes, I believe he can,” Mulroy said. “People here want first-class, and Beckham is first-class. He has brilliant people working with him. But he’s got to do it right. People here have heard every song you can sing them. They won’t settle for anything but the best.”