Miami is still lagging behind Orlando and Atlanta in its bid to acquire a Major League Soccer expansion franchise, a source with MLS told ESPNFC.com on Friday.
MLS commissioner Don Garber told TSN earlier this week that cities for three of the four expansion teams the league hopes to add by the end of the decade have already been identified, with a league source confirming that that list is comprised of Orlando, Atlanta and Miami.
But that same source said the lack of a suitable stadium is currently holding back Miami’s bid, and that little had changed since MLS deputy commissioner and president Mark Abbott spoke with ESPNFC.com at the MLS All-Star game in July.
"I wouldn't say yet that there is a Miami bid," Abbott said in July. "Obviously there are people in Miami who are thinking about or looking at the possibility of MLS. Obviously David Beckham has been there to visit, but a key component of any city's plan to come to MLS -- and Miami is no different -- is having a stadium plan. So there's a number of pieces in Miami that would still have to come together. There's no bid going in Miami right now."
Beckham has spent time with Bolivian billionaire Marcelo Claure exploring the possibility of putting a team in Miami. Claure is a member of the Florida International University Board of Trustees, leading some to conclude that a prospective MLS team would play at FIU Stadium. Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross, who also owns Sun Life Stadium, also expressed interest in putting an MLS team in Miami earlier this week while speaking at the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit. Apparently, neither venue is deemed suitable by MLS, the source said.
By contrast, Orlando is close to securing the final $20 million needed to fund its soccer specific stadium, although approval from the Orange County Board of Country Commissioners is still needed. A close vote is expected since five of the seven-member panel must vote yes in order to secure passage of the economic development package that includes the stadium.
Atlanta has already had its stadium approved, and according to the league source has already met with four existing MLS teams in order to formulate a strategic plan to bring an MLS franchise to that city.