MIAMI (AP) — LeBron James has had “preliminary talks” with David Beckham about possibly bringing an MLS team to Miami.
The talks were first reported in the British media and confirmed by James after the Miami Heat’s practice Monday.
“There’s some interest on both sides,” said James, the four-time NBA MVP who already has a small ownership stake in the English club Liverpool through his involvement with Fenway Sports Management. “David has become a good friend of mine over the last few years. And I think it would be great for this city to have a football club for sure. So there’s interest on both sides but it’s preliminary talks. But there (is) some open dialogue.”
The Associated Press first reported last month that Beckham decided to start an MLS expansion team in Miami. Several matters, however, must first be taken care of, including league approval.
Beckham scouted some Miami locations last week — for at least the second time — and is looking for investors. Beckham, who played for the Los Angeles Galaxy in MLS, has the right to pay $25 million to start an expansion franchise. But the overall startup costs would far exceed that amount when factoring in other setup costs such as stadium construction and player acquisitions.
“The research is still being made out,” James said. “I think it could be huge. But you never know. I think this is a great town for soccer. There’s a lot of soccer players, there’s great youth soccer players here and people love the city as well. So that definitely would help.”
South Florida has had an MLS team in the past — the Miami Fusion played in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. from 1998 to 2001, before shutting down because of poor attendance. But it’s surely conceivable that Beckham’s star power could make MLS more viable in Miami, and aligning with James certainly will help.
Beckham created a buzz last season when he sat courtside for some Heat games, and James often speaks about his appreciation for some of the world’s best players.
“I’ve grown a great interest in watching the game and learning the guys,” James said. “It’s a pretty intense sport. And my kids love it as well. But I’ve grown to the point where I know exactly what’s going on when I’m watching the game.”