Will it be the Rowdies and Miami battling for a MLS franchise?


The Tampa Bay Rowdies and Miami could either be in line to both get a Major League Soccer franchise. The Rowdies are battling for a title for in their first year as a member of United Soccer League. It seems that at the very least Tampa Bay has moved ahead of Miami on the MLS expansion list.

Meanwhile, David Beckham who is leading the charge in Miami may finally MIGHT be close to getting his act together to get stadium plan in place.

ESPNFC is reporting that Miami-Dade County commissioners approved a deal on this month to sell three acres of county land to Beckham’s group, the last segment of a 9-acre plot on which a 25,000-seat stadium is planned to be built.

Miami Beckham United will pay just over $9 million for the last piece of land. It has already paid $19 million for the other six acres needed. Beckham’s group says the planned stadium would be privately funded, and the stadium would also be subject to county property tax.

Again according to ESPN, Tim Leiweke, one of Beckham’s investors, said the group is hopeful that formality will be completed this month now that a land/stadium deal is in place.

“Now is the time for MLS to move forward in helping us deliver the soccer club that Miami has been waiting for,” the group said in a statement. “Miami is the eighth largest metro area in the U.S., the country’s number one soccer market, and a critical gateway to Latin America and Europe. MLS will only reach its full potential once it fields a team here.”

Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Rowdies have a solid stadium plan in place that would expand Al Lang Stadium to 18,000. May 2nd the city of St. Petersburg struck a deal with the team after a vote by the people of the city overwhelming supported both sides moving forward on the stadium expansion deal if the Major Soccer League would award the Rowdies a franchise.

Their strong ownership group led by Bill Edwards is willing to sink at least $80 million dollars into the deal. Plus, he will pay the estimated up to $150 million for a MLS franchise fee.

Edward was very happy about how well he and the city of St. Petersburg have been able to work together. He had this to say about their relationship after the passing of the legislation allowing the two sides to move forward on the stadium.

“I am grateful to the citizens of St. Petersburg for passing this important referendum. St. Petersburg is very protective of our incredibly valuable waterfront — as is appropriate. We have put together a stadium plan that enhances our downtown, is of a scale that is respectful to our waterfront and does not burden the taxpayers.”

While, Miami, Beckham and Leiweke have been upbeat about their deal getting done soon. That is not the case just yet and they are nowhere near as far along as the Rowdies – St. Petersburg are.

Unlike, St. Petersburg, according to ESPN: The Miami City Commission will now have to approve a zoning change for the land, and chairman Keon Hardemon, in whose district the stadium lies, is holding off of giving the project his blessing until he sees more detail from MBU.

“My concern is for the neighborhood,” Hardemon told ESPN FC, a day before the County Commission’s vote. “There are a significant number of concerns that the residents have about having the stadium there. The question for me is: Is this zoning appropriate for a stadium there?

“I get emails from Spring Garden every day saying they don’t want a stadium as a neighbor. But you really have to have some kind of architectural design before we can make a comment about what is going to be there. Right now, we just don’t know.”

While Miami still wants to land a soccer team in the MLS, a deal remains far from done. However, they remain a factor in the expansion race and the question remains “Would the league have Orlando, St. Petersburg and Miami all as members.”

So, the MLS is expected to expand by four teams to begin the 2020 with the outside chance of adding as many as six cities. Sacramento, Tampa/St. Petersburg, Phoenix, and Cincinnati — have seemingly strengthened their positions. While, Miami, Detroit, Nashville and San Antonio, remain in the running but they have some tough hurdles to overcome.

 

 

 

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Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved with Berman Concerts and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.