Miami soccer fans inched closer to getting their wish Wednesday, after the MLS Board of Governors voted to authorize "finalizing the details" on making David Beckham's investment group, Miami Beckham United, an MLS expansion franchise.
Speaking to reporters at a news conference prior to the MLS All-Star Game, MLS Commissioner Don Garber said, "We are not announcing MLS Miami today, but I am confident we'll be able to do that by the end of the summer.
"We believe the time is right -- finally -- for Miami to become a great MLS city."
The Board's vote came earlier in the day, during its meeting in Chicago, according to ESPN. Soccer legend Beckham and the group's majority owner, Todd Boehly, made a presentation on Miami Beckham United's plans, which includes a $300 million, 25,000-seat stadium project in Miami's Overtown neighborhood.
Garber also said before the All-Star Game, "As we all know, Miami is one of the largest markets in North America. It's a community that's incredibly diverse. It's passionate about the game, one just needs to see what happened last Saturday night."
He was referring to one of the world's premier cup matches, the El Clásico, pitting Real Madrid against its archrival Barcelona, played Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. A total of 66,014 people attended, some paying $500 -- or much, much more -- for the chance to watch Barcelona’s 3-2 win from near-nosebleed seats.
Incidentally, ESPN’s coverage of El Clásico Miami was seen by an average audience of 1.7 million viewers, making it the most-watched soccer match telecast on ESPN networks since last summer’s UEFA Euro 2016 in France.
The New York Times reported El Clásico Miami did not reach television screens in Europe. Nor did it sell sponsorships or pricey insider-access packages like the one being offered by "one hotel on South Beach that promised 'amazing experiences at the hotel and also sideline seats at the game' — all yours, for just $750 a night (two-night minimum, please)."
Garber said Wednesday night he wanted to be precise about Beckham's Miami franchise. "We're at the finish line. Now we're one foot closer to it, but not quite over it. But we're getting really, really, really close."