Miami - David Beckham's hopes of launching a Major League Soccer franchise in Miami took a giant step towards becoming reality Tuesday after city officials approved the sale of land crucial to a proposed stadium project.
Miami-Dade County commissioners voted by 9-4 to approve the transfer of a three-acre parcel of land worth $9 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 $19 million in Miami's Overtown district.
The group hopes to build a 25,000-seat stadium on the site. Beckham's group 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 in its construction.
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, Beckham was granted the right to launch an expansion team for $25 million instead of the typical fee estimated at more than $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.
Major League Soccer chiefs, meanwhile, have repeatedly warned Beckham's group that the clock was ticking on their franchise plans and that the league will not grant an open-ended time-frame to get the expansion team off the ground.
Members of the Beckham consortium made a presentation to residents of Overtown last month to outline their plans for the site.
Tim Leiweke, who is handling negotiations for the group, admitted the consortium had faced "issues."
"We have had bumps in the road," he said.
Although the proposed stadium would not open until 2021, Leiweke told the meeting the new team could launch before that by playing at the Marlins Park baseball ground or the Miami Dolphins' Hard Rock Stadium.