News filtered through this week that David Beckham has selected Miami as his venue of choice for a new MLS franchise. The as-yet-unnamed team seems set to become the third visible expansion team after the Manchester City and New York Yankees’ joint venture, New York City FC and the record-setting Iron Lions of Orlando.
Really, selecting Miami was a no-brainer. The appeal of the city to athletes is notorious, and although one MLS franchise has already failed in South Florida, the times have changed in MLS such that Beckham and his co-investors are making this decision based on expected strong crowd support. While this hasn’t always been the case in South Florida – especially during particularly unsuccessful sporting summers – the city is a major market with a passionate soccer fan base.
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Scanning the list of major US and Canadian cities without MLS franchises, Miami is the most populated unrepresented city and has been targeted by the league as a possible location for some time. Other options it was believed Beckham was looking at were San Diego, Orlando and … wait for it … Montreal.
Commissioner Don Garber is on record plugging the merits of a twenty-four team league with a presence in Florida, Atlanta (please let this potential franchise keep their NASL nickname, The Silverbacks) and another SoCal team. That he has now leveraged three global brands into associations with MLS means smaller, more … optimistic parties should begin doubting their immediate chances.
As the business plans for each nascent franchise gain clarity, so does the picture of MLS’s mid-term future. Fittingly, David Beckham is front and center for this new era.