Football: David Beckham buys land for Miami stadium ahead of his MLS franchise debut

 David Beckham attending the 6th Biennial UNICEF Ball in California, on Jan 12, 2016.
David Beckham attending the 6th Biennial UNICEF Ball in California, on Jan 12, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

MIAMI (AFP) - Former England football great David Beckham has taken a key step towards his goal of launching a Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise by buying land for a stadium in Miami, one of his partners said on Thursday.

The group of investors acquired land in the Overtown neighbourhood north-west of downtown in the Florida city.

"Big News: We've closed on our #Miami stadium site. Excited to bring a world-class @MLS club to our fans," tweeted Beckham's partner Marcelo Claure, chief executive officer of Sprint telecom company.

Beckham, 40, has pursued the project for a 20,000-seat stadium since late 2013.

Several attempts to buy land at other sites failed in the face of opposition from residents and local authorities concerned about increased traffic in a city already afflicted by heavy congestion.

The Miami Beckham United group must now buy additional public land for parking and convince the city to permit construction, which will require overhauling zoning regulations, the Miami Herald reported.

"We have the right site, the right ownership group, and a loyal base of fans counting down the days until our first match," the group said in a statement.

"We're all-in on Overtown, and we couldn't be more excited about moving forward with plans to deliver the most responsible stadium in Miami history."

Addressing concerns the stadium may not provide enough parking in the car-addicted city, the group said the site lies within walking distance of public transportation and downtown.

Beckham's team is set to stage its MLS debut in 2018.

The former England captain's contract to play for the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007 gave him the option to create a new MLS team for the reduced price of US$25 million (S$34.26 million).

His professional move to the United States has been seen as a boon to a sport that remains overshadowed by American football, baseball and other homegrown sports.