MIAMI • David Beckham's hopes of launching a Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise in Miami took a giant step towards becoming reality on Tuesday after city officials approved the sale of land crucial to a proposed stadium project.
Miami-Dade County commissioners voted 9-4 to approve the transfer of a three-acre parcel of land worth US$9 million (S$12.4 million) to Beckham's consortium, which reportedly hopes to launch its MLS team by 2021.
Beckham's group had already purchased six acres of land next to the site for some US$19 million in Miami's Overtown district.
"We look forward to working with the Miami community to bring our vision for the neighbourhood to life," Miami Beckham United said in a statement, describing the deal as a "major milestone" towards its MLS team.
"Our loyal fans in Miami and around the world have been waiting for this moment for years, and we're thrilled that we're getting closer to our kick-off."
The group hopes to build a 25,000-seat stadium on the site. It has said the cost of the stadium, which still needs to be approved by city planners, will be met by private investors, with no public funds being used for construction.
"We are not here to take money from the county or the city, we will pay for this project ourselves, privately, we will pay property taxes and we will be good neighbours," Miami Beckham United official Tim Leiweke said.
Beckham announced in 2014 that he intended to bring a team to the South Florida city, exercising an option he was granted when he joined the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007.
Under that deal, he could launch an expansion team for US$25 million instead of the typical fee, estimated at more than US$100 million. But the former England, Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder ran into a series of problems finding a stadium site, failing with bids for three other potential locations amid local opposition.