Beckham lines up long shot: founding a Miami soccer team

Beckham lines up long shot: founding a Miami soccer team
Soccer player David Beckham sits before Game 5 of the NBA Eastern Conference final basketball playoff between the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat in Miami, Florida May 30, 2013.

MIAMI - From his tattoos to his finely chiseled physique and Armani underwear ads, football icon David Beckham oozes Miami-style sex appeal.

Blending charisma with a smart business plan, Beckham intends to launch his own professional football team in Miami, a multicultural market that has defied major league owners twice before. But Beckham is known for making long shots.

Expectation is high that the former captain of the England team, who retired as a player in May, will exercise a $25 million option in his Major League Football (MLS) player contract to start a new team later this year and base it in Miami.

The league has confirmed it is in discussions with Beckham but is awaiting a formal bid, including details of the city, the ownership group, and a stadium plan, which is expected before the end of the year.

A source close to the negotiations described a financial plan that is well advanced if incomplete.

Beckham declined requests for an interview, but he has been touring Miami and recently said the city was ripe for a new football team.

Finding the right location for a stadium and financing is not easy in Miami. Taxpayers have soured on publicly financed stadium deals after a $500 million baseball stadium with a retractable roof for the Miami Marlins failed to draw fans.

The state legislature rebuffed the Miami Dolphins' request for public funding of a $350 million renovation of its privately owned American football stadium.

Instead, Beckham is assembling a group to invest $150-200 million in private financing for a new football stadium in Miami's urban core by 2018-19, according to the source, who divulged financial details that have been under wraps until now. The same person stressed that the plans are still in the early stages and the cost could vary according to the final site choice.

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