Atlanta is getting a Major League Soccer team. Several reports today suggest that the deal is all but done. Which, in a way, is good news for Miami soccer fans, as it suggests the MLS is serious about bringing the league back to the South with Atlanta, Orlando, and Miami as their main targets. Though, compared to those other two cities, the future of a team in Miami is a bit murkier.
Soccer superstar David Beckham and Dolphins owner Stephen Ross are both said to be eyeing teams in the area, but neither has much of a concrete plan in place yet.
Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank is "deep in discussion" with the MLS about the Atlanta team. They'd likely share the the Falcon's planned brand-new $1 billion stadium, which is set to open in 2017.
Orlando is just waiting on a vote to approve the use of existing tourism tax dollars to help fund part of the construction for a new stadium for their USL Pro team, Orlando City. That team would likely evolve into an MLS squad.
Well, we all know David Beckham, who has the option to own an MLS franchise, is eyeing the city up and down. He's visited with local city leaders, has checked out FIU Stadium as a potential home base, and is said to be working with Bolivian billionaire Marcelo Claure.
The plan is quite intriguing on paper. It combines Beckham's international star power with a stadium location more accessible to communities with Latin American heritage. Remember, Miami Fusion, our original MLS team, actually played in Fort Lauderdale and failed spectacularly.
Though there may be something of a wildcard in play: Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.
On Wednesday, Ross attended the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit and announced his intention to acquire an MLS team for Miami.
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He's currently fighting to get the public to pick up part of the renovation tab on his aging Sun Life Stadium and has promised to "sweeten" the deal. Apparently the idea of bringing an MLS team to the stadium may be part of that sweetener. Though, Sun Life Stadium sits near the county line and will still rely heavily on courting Broward County fans who failed to support Miami Fusion.
Sports Illustrated notes that, "Beckham and Ross are not currently working together."
Ross's plan, apparently, is to use the team as a pawn to get public money. That is obviously a bit less exciting that bringing Beckham to town.