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Feb 3, 2014

Report: David Beckham nears MLS deal

Courtesy: MLSscoccer.com. David Beckham’s MLS press conference live from Miami.

David Beckham has used his contracted option to buy a Major League Soccer franchise at a discount, according to a report by the Miami Herald.

David Beckham is close to securing a deal to own an MLS franchise in Miami, according to a report.

Beckham wants to put an MLS expansion team in Miami, but his plan depends on a plan for a privately funded stadium.

Beckham has teamed with longtime business partner Simon Fuller as well as Marcelo Claure -- the billionaire owner of Brightstar Corp. -- to try to bring an MLS team to Miami. The stadium plan that has gained the most attention is a bid to lease a parcel of county-owned land in the Port of Miami.

The proposed site, which is county-owned, is close to the Miami Heat’s basketball arena and Miami Beach hotel district, but county commissioners have also encouraged MLS to consider other sites away from the busy port.

As part of the MLS contract he signed when he joined the Los Angeles Galaxy, Beckham has an option to acquire an MLS expansion franchise at a discounted rate of $25 million.

Beckham and MLS commissioner Don Garber are scheduled to meet with community leaders and youth soccer clubs in Miami this week, and a news conference is set for Wednesday. Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez will also attend.

Garber included Miami when he spoke about MLS' franchise plans last month.

"We have been spending a lot of time -- I was down [in Miami] last weekend, I've been down there a lot -- working with them, working with potential ownership groups, trying to finalize a stadium a stadium plan," Garber said. "Right now, we've got a lot of work to do."

Among those who might become involved is Beckham's friend LeBron James, who has had recent conversations with the retired football star about bringing a team to Miami.

"It's looking very promising,'' James said Monday. "Hopefully they can go in the right direction as we all planned. It's a great place for soccer.''

The Miami Fusion played in Fort Lauderdale before folding in 2001, but Garber has recently pushed for rapid MLS expansion, starting with New York City FC in 2015. The league hopes to place its next two expansion teams in Miami and Atlanta.

Expansion in Miami is contingent on securing a financing plan and location for a new stadium. Beckham has scouted possible sites and is seeking investors to assist with startup costs such as stadium construction and player acquisitions.

Among those who might become involved is Beckham's good friend LeBron James. They've had discussions about bringing a team to Miami.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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