Miami (AFP) – Retired England football star David Beckham remains in talks to bring a Major League Soccer team to Miami, but has a rival bidder in Italian financier Alessandro Butini, the Miami Herald reported Tuesday.
Beckham led the Los Angeles Galaxy to two MLS titles after stints at Manchester United, Real Madrid and AC Milan and before retiring earlier this year after a final run at Paris Saint-Germain.
Part of his MLS deal included an option to purchase an MLS club at a discounted price that ends in December and Beckham has said Miami is his top choice for a city.
But Butini has set up a website for his Miami MLS bid, MIA4MLS.com, to spark fan interest and has partnered with the University of Miami school of architecture to create designs for a new downtown stadium for the club by December.
Beckham has been working with Bolivian-born cellular telephone magnate Marcelo Claure, and the Herald reported that the two met last week in Japan and plan to meet again soon in Los Angeles, citing an unnamed source that said the talks were “progressing nicely but not a done deal yet.”
Beckham and Claure toured Miami in June with stops at two existing stadiums, although MLS would prefer the team have its own new venue, according to the report.
Butini met with MLS commissioner Don Garber earlier this year in New York and has a London-based group including real estate venture capitalist Marco Novelli and Suzie MacCagnan, who has brokered deals between foreign investment groups and English Premier League clubs.
“Commissioner Garber told me the stadium is the biggest variable, the number one priority, so I am tackling that issue head on,” Butini said. “MLS is looking for an 18,000- to 20,000-seat venue… 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.”
Miami had one of the original MLS teams, the Fusion, but it folded after four seasons.