David Beckham made a splash near Biscayne Bay on Monday in typical Miami style, high on hype and low on substance. But the energy was palpable in the Arsht Center and across Miami as the footballing legend announced that finally, yes, Major League Soccer had awarded him a coveted franchise in South Florida.
Organizers passed on talking about most of the details Miami had discussed endlessly during the past week, including what the future club will be called and the colors it will sport. The interest was such that fans and the media even speculated that the event’s black and white color scheme and vaporwave pink and blue ambience surely had something to do with the announcement. Alas, it didn’t.
What we did get was a celebration of Beckham and his team’s commitment to the project in Miami, which has come with a host of obstacles. Co-owner Marcelo Claure, the CEO of Sprint, confessed that the project was all but dead, in his words, as recently as 60 days ago. As the dust begins to clear, it’s obvious there are some boxes to fill in but the worst for Beckham seems to be over, having earned the confidence of the high brass at MLS.
Congratulations were given by Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, in a public and enthusiastic show of support which one can’t help but contrast to his long feud with the Marlins baseball team. The City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez followed, adding that his daughter is young soccer player. Finally, MLS Commissioner Don Garber announced with an “Hola Miami!” that the league had officially granted the city a team.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) January 29, 2018
After much talking and self-congratulation, the podium was finally turned over to the owners of what has been dubbed Fútbol Miami MLS. Marcelo Claure, the CEO of Sprint, went into detail about his long journey to bring MLS to Miami, including a recounting of his efforts in 2008 to build a club with FC Barcelona, which eventually fell through as a result of the financial crisis. He revealed that the project was as good as dead just two months ago before a meeting with MasTec owners Jorge and Jose Mas changed everything. Regarding the new partnership, Claure said “We found the missing link. We found the local partner that knows Miami.”
In a moment that felt very Miami, Claure detailed how he met fellow partner Simon Fuller at a dinner with J-Lo and Marc Anthony, who introduced him to David Beckham.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) January 29, 2018
A hype video followed with congratulations from a host of celebrities and athletes, including Alex Morgan, Emilio Estefan, Tom Brady, J-Lo, Will Smith, Alejandro Sanz, Alonzo Mourning, Neymar, Usain Bolt (who offered himself up as a striker), Serena Williams, DJ Khaled, Prince Royce, and Jay-Z. Beckham and Claure’s families also offered up words of congrats to their loved ones on stage.
After nearly 50 minutes of build-up, David Beckham finally took the podium. He became emotional as he expressed his commitment to building his club nowhere else but Miami, pledging to “make and build a club that you can be proud of” and teasing that he’d already spoken to “top players” who said they were in. In one of the few reveals of the day, he then added that the Miami club “will build a state of the art academy […] like I’ve grown up with in Europe.” About the Mas partners, he said “I knew this dream was gonna happen that moment” after he met them.
The last speaker up was Jorge Mas, chairman of the multi-billion dollar engineering and construction firm MasTec. If Beckham was sincere but subdued in his presentation, Mas was all the opposite, a consummate Miami hype man for the new team. He spoke about his family’s history of escaping Communist Cuba and becoming successful in the United States, and linked it to the millions of families in South Florida with similar stories. Many Miamians are familiar with the history of the Mas family, including their legendary father Jorge Mas Canosa, a late leader of the Cuban exile community.
Jorge Mas pledged his support for the project and expressed his excitement for building one of the best clubs in the world.
While much remains to be settled, the excitement for first division soccer in Miami was undeniable today. A large and loud crowd of Southern Legion supporters made noise and earned repeated acknowledgement by the guests of honor for their persistent efforts in keeping the project alive.
And although many are still asking about the name, the colors, and whether the decision to have a stadium in Overtown is final, it can finally be said without a shroud of uncertainty: MLS has come to Miami.
Speaking to press after the event, Beckham, Mas, and Claure disclosed some details about the days to come. Beckham stated to a reporter that they plan to reach out to fans about naming and picking colors for the team. Asked by a reporter, “You’re gonna let the fans name the team?” Beckham respoded “Yep.”
To a reporter’s question about management and the future team, Beckham added “We’re definitely not gonna be a defensive team. We’re going to be attacking, it’s what the people of Miami want.”
On his side, Jorge Mas revealed that the group is planning to decide on a name and colors by the end of February, meaning any fan input must be initiated soon. He also told the media that the team hopes to stay in the spotlight by announcing details every 3-4 weeks.
Claure, meanwhile, told local news station WPLG that the team plans to play in a temporary venue for the 2020 season before moving into the new stadium the following year.