With an extraordinary ownership group at the helm and an agreement in place to build a world-class soccer stadium, the diverse and international city of Miami has officially been granted a Major League Soccer expansion team, Commissioner Don Garber announced today.
The club will be owned by a local and global group of entrepreneurs: global soccer and cultural icon and former MLS player David Beckham; Marcelo Claure, Sprint CEO, SoftBank board member and long-time Miami-resident and entrepreneur; Jorge and José Mas, the Miami-based leaders of telecommunications and construction giant MasTec; Masayoshi Son, founder and CEO of SoftBank; and entertainment entrepreneur and manager, Simon Fuller.
“It is with tremendous pride that we welcome Miami to Major League Soccer,” said Commissioner Garber. “With David Beckham, Marcelo Claure, Jorge and José Mas, Masayoshi Son and Simon Fuller leading the way, we know the right people are in place and the time is right for Miami to become a great Major League Soccer city. This ownership is committed to bringing Miami the elite-level soccer team, stadium and fan experience it richly deserves. We look forward to working with the entire organization on a strategic and successful launch for Miami’s MLS club.”
The path to today’s announcement was initiated more than a decade ago when David Beckham joined the LA Galaxy in 2007 after his legendary career in Europe with Manchester United and Real Madrid. Beckham came to MLS as the league’s first Designated Player with the goal of elevating the sport of soccer in America. In his time with the Galaxy, MLS experienced explosive growth, adding seven expansion teams and nine soccer stadiums. Under his contract, Beckham and Simon Fuller secured the opportunity to own an MLS club following Beckham’s playing career. Beckham becomes the first former MLS player to own a team in the league.
“Our mission to bring an MLS club to Miami is now complete, and we are deeply satisfied, grateful and excited," said Beckham. "Our pledge to our fans in Miami and around the world is simple: your team will always strive to make you proud on the pitch, our stadium will be a place that you cherish visiting, and our impact in the community and on South Florida’s youth will run deep."
“David and I began this journey in 2007 when David, who was playing for Real Madrid at the time, made the decision to sign with the LA Galaxy, with a single vision to help grow the sport of soccer in the United States. As part of our deal we negotiated the right to acquire our own franchise when David stopped playing. After many trials and tribulations, and with the help of our incredible partners, here we are now announcing our franchise in the amazing city of Miami. What an incredible journey and a dream come true for David and me,” added Fuller.
Almost at the same time as David was starting his MLS career, Marcelo Claure, currently a SoftBank board member, committed to bring Major League Soccer to Miami. Marcelo, who spent years in Miami as the founder of the largest Hispanic-owned company in the United States, Brightstar, is also an avid soccer fan and the owner of Bolivar, Bolivia’s most popular and South America’s ninth-most successful soccer club.
“I started my dream to bring MLS to Miami in 2008, and in 2014, joined forces with David and Simon. It took perseverance and patience, but it has certainly paid off. We have a world-class ownership group that includes one of the hottest brands in all of sports, the strongest possible local partner, an entertainment guru, two sports franchise owners, and one of the world’s leading global technology entrepreneurs,” said Claure.
“Today is a proud day for Miami, and for our family,” said Jorge Mas. “This is the first step in our quest to build one of the top clubs in MLS and the Americas. Our club will be innovative, and our stadium will deliver a world-class experience from the time fans leave home until the conclusion of the match. We will be relentless in our goal to win MLS Cup and other trophies. Our club will have a global vision but our fans in South Florida will always be our first priority reflecting the best of our community.”
Jorge Mas is the co-founder and chairman of the board of MasTec. José, Jorge’s younger brother, is the telecommunications company’s CEO. Both live in Miami and are philanthropists with far-reaching generational ties to the South Florida community.
Along with Jorge and José Mas, the addition last month of Softbank founder and CEO Masayoshi Son completed the club’s ownership group as a formidable, international team of industry titans. Masayoshi Son is one of the leading technologists of our time and is revered for his innovative approach to business.
David Beckham, Marcelo Claure, the Mas brothers and the rest of this ownership group are determined to create a club that will bring together the community and deliver a strong economic impact in South Florida. In addition to the stadium, Beckham, Claure, the Mas brothers, Son and Fuller plan to build a privately developed training center and academy focused on developing local athletes.
Miami’s team will play in a privately developed, 25,000-seat state-of-the-art stadium in the city’s urban core. The stadium will be designed by Populous, the global firm that has created MLS stadiums in Orlando, Houston, Kansas City and Colorado, along with Audi Field (opening this year in Washington, D.C.), and Allianz Field (opening in Minnesota in 2019). Populous has also worked on many of the top soccer venues around the world, including the new stadium for Tottenham Hotspur, opening this year, and the expansion of Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium in 2015.
“Miami celebrates the culmination of years of hard work that have resulted today in the birth of a club in North America’s top-flight soccer league for our vibrant and diverse community,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez. “Miami has always been united in our love for soccer, so it is with great enthusiasm that we welcome a new Major League Soccer club to our community. Our team and stadium will be the pride of Miami and create more jobs and attract even more visitors to our community.”
“I want to thank Major League Soccer for welcoming Miami, and our gratitude also goes out to the owners of Miami’s MLS club for their dedication to making this a reality,” said Miami Mayor Francis X. Suarez. “Miami is one of North America’s largest markets, and we are a community that is diverse and passionate about soccer. This is an historic moment for our city.”
One of the most culturally diverse markets in the world, South Florida is the largest metropolitan area in the Southeastern United States and has a proven and passionate fan base for soccer. During the last few years, multiple crowds of more than 60,000 per game have attended soccer matches in the region. Nielsen ranks Miami-Fort Lauderdale as the 16th-largest television market in the U.S., and it is one of the strongest for soccer. The area consistently ranks among the top markets for FIFA World Cup viewership.
The area is home to the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, NBA’s Miami Heat, MLB’s Miami Marlins and the NHL’s Florida Panthers as well as many top collegiate sports programs. It is also host to several major annual sporting events, including college football’s Orange Bowl, NASCAR Championship Weekend and the Miami Open tennis championship.
Additional news and information on the club – including its debut season in MLS, team name, logo and staff – will be announced in the future. For more information on Miami’s new MLS club, visit FutbolMiamiMLS.com. Fans can connect with the club on social media via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube at @FutbolMiamiMLS and using the #FutbolMiamiMLS hashtag.
With Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) beginning play this season and today’s official addition of Miami, MLS has added 15 clubs since the beginning of the 2005 season, leading to a rapid and remarkable transformation of professional soccer in North America. MLS will grow to a total of 28 teams in the next few years.