Miami-Dade commissioners okay soccer stadium search

David Beckham scouting sites for Major League Soccer franchise in Miami

MIAMI - Miami-Dade County commissioners voted Tuesday to allow Mayor Carlos Gimenez to find locations in or near downtown to build a soccer-specific stadium for a new Major League Soccer franchise.

MLS has reached out to Miami-Dade County about placing its 22nd franchise there, according to a county resolution.

"No public dollars are going to be used for the building of the soccer stadium," said Commissioner Esteban Bovo.

"As long as we don't use public funds," reiterated Commissioner Rebeca Sosa.

Former England captain David Beckham is expected to place his team in Miami, and he has visited several times over the past few months. The league and its former star want the stadium in an urban setting.

"If they don't reach out and figure out ways to tie themselves to the western part of the county then they'd be doing a large disservice to themselves from a business perspective," said Commissioner Juan Zapata.

In October, The Associated Press reported that Beckman picked Miami as the destination for his MLS franchise. The option of becoming a team owner was included in the MLS contract he signed when joining the Galaxy in 2007.

LeBron James, who owns a stake in Liverpool, has had preliminary talks with Beckham about a team in Miami.

South Florida has had an MLS team in the past — the Miami Fusion played in Fort Lauderdale from 1998 to 2001, before shutting down because of poor attendance.

There are currently 19 MLS teams, and league officials hopes to expand to 24 teams by the 2020 season.

A 20th team is already in place to begin playing in 2015 after Premier League club Manchester City and its partner, the New York Yankees, paid an expansion fee of $100 million to launch New York City FC. Orlando is the 21st team, which will also begin play in 2015. Atlanta is rumored to be another potential expansion franchise.

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