03.12.2013 21:55 h

Football: MLS wants Beckham-led Miami team but stadium blocks deal

Chelsea v Hull City - Premier League
Chelsea v Hull City - Premier League

Major League Soccer wants a new team in Miami backed by England icon David Beckham, but MLS commissioner Don Garber said Tuesday that the deal still lacks a downtown stadium deal.

"We can't go into Miami without the right stadium solution," Garber said in his annual state of the league comments, which came four days before Sporting Kansas City hosts Real Salt Lake in the MLS Cup championship playoff final.

Garber refused to put a timetable on the project or address the notion that Beckham faces time pressures under terms of his former MLS playing contract that gave him rights to an expansion club at a discounted rate.

"We're very excited about the opportunity of David putting together an ownership group and finalizing a site in downtown Miami so we can have our 22nd team," Garber said.

"But there's a lot of work that needs to happen."

Garber said that there will be an MLS board meeting on Friday and Beckham's Miami bid "will be a key subject at that board meeting but they are not coming with a proposal for us."

Bolivian-born billionaire Marcelo Claure and British entrepeneur Simon Fuller are said to be two of the projects backers with even NBA Miami Heat star LeBron James having spoken about it with Beckham.

Newspaper and television reports in Miami say Beckham is interested in a downtown port site for a stadium of about 25,000 seats. But no deal is done and Garber made it clear no team will come without it.

"We want to work with David and Simon Fuller to get something done as quickly as we can," said Garber. "We're making progress in Miami with David Beckham and his partners.

"We believe Miami can work if we have the right stadium situation. We're not there yet. But we hope to get there soon.

"We believe Miami can work if we get David Beckham and his partners to come together and be as strong as other ownership groups. That is still to be seen."

Garber's goal is to have 24 MLS teams by 2020. The league has awarded teams to New York and Orlando that will launch in 2015, giving the league 21 clubs.

MLS is not considering shifting its match calendar from March-December to align with the rest of the world in the near future, Garber said.

"We don't think we're ready for that yet," he said. "That's not something we're going to do in the short term."

Garber did say the league is a money loser despite most clubs having their own venues and US ratings growing for English Premier League telecasts.

"We've got to find a way to make the economics deliver sooner rather than later," Garber said.

"Major League Soccer still loses money as an enterprise. We've got to find ways to move closer to break even as an enterprise."

New National Football League television deals will bring $4.4 billion a year to the NFL.

"I wish broadcasters would pay us $1 billion," Garber said. "Then it would be easy."

Garber said for MLS to realize long-term goals of rivaling European leagues for top talent, the quality of play must rise with investment that is bolstered by a growth in US supporter passion.

"We have got to have more of a soccer culture at all levels in this country," Garber said.

"Our product has to grow in the rest of the world the way the rest of the world's product has grown in the United States.

"We have to have a dynamic in our stadiums that is different from the other sports in the United States and like other fan bases around the world. We will be able to deliver a passionate fan base that will alow us to invest in our teams."