Updated 11:09 AM EST, Wed, Jan 19, 2022

David Beckham Looking at Marlins Park as Temporary Home For MLS Expansion Team; LeBron James Interested?

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David Beckham, who has piqued the interest of NBA star LeBron James as a potential investor, is giving serious consideration to making Marlins Park the temporary home for his expansion Major League Soccer team while a permanent home is constructed for the team, according to Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

Beckham, along with his business manager Simon Fuller and co-investor Marcelo Claure - who owns Brightstar Corp., a Miami-based global wireless distributor and Bolivar, one Bolivia's top soccer clubs - visited Marlins Stadium as well as Florida International University (FIU) Stadium last week.

Beckham is said to be looking for a facility in an urban area with access to restaurants and and shopping areas. Marlins Park has many of the amenities Beckham and his investors seek, including dining options such as the field-side Clevelander bar, and luxury boxes.

"They do want an urban site," said Gimenez to the Miami Herald. "I do agree that an urban site would work better."

Gimenez noted that the Miami Dolphins' Sun Life Stadium may be to cavernous for an MLS team noting that Beckham and his investors are aiming for a facility that can hold 20,000 to 28,000 fans. Marlins Park holds 36,742 people while FIU Stadium seats 23,500 fans.

FIU Stadium has its own advantage with Claure being a member of the Board of Trustees of FIU, with school officials noting to the Miami Herald that facility has the capacity Beckham and Claure desire while located in West Miami and home to a large international student population.

Both facilities are temporary fixes while Beckham finds a place to build a home site for his team. MLS has told potential investors that they prefer a privately-funded soccer-specific stadium with capacity for 20,000 to 30,000 fans.

Conflicts with the Marlins schedule as well as dimensions of the field make Marlins Park less than ideal as a permanent home. Match organizers had to cover the infield dirt, putting one goal near the Marlins dugout on the third-base side and the other in front of the visitors' bullpen in right field for an exhibition game between Venezuela and Nigeria in 2012.

MLS games at Marlins Park would also go a long way in raising attendance on a facility in which Miami taxpayers paid for three-quarters of the project only to have Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria trade the teams' top players within a year of moving into the new facility. The Miami Marlins were second-to-last in attendance, averaging 19,584 fans in 2013.

With a temporary home in his sights, Beckham can soon focus on building a soccer-specific stadium for his MLS franchise, which will cost an estimated $200 million. Beckham - the eighth highest paid athlete in the world, according to Forbes, and whose net worth is $300 million, will likely not have a problem attracting investors, especially with Fuller and Claure already on-board with the project.

James, whose interest in the sport has grown since partnering up with Fenway Sports Group to buy a piece ownership of English Premier League team Liverpool F.C., has expressed interest in investing in Beckham's project.

"There's some interest in both sides," said James. "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."

Beckham has already had great success in the U.S. soccer market helping MLS usher in a new era which gave the league and the L.A. Galaxy global recognition. Beckham's presence in the league also helped on the corporate side, with MLS increasing expansion fees for investors interested in joining the league and an increase in media rights fees.

"With Beckham, well we know what he did when he was with the Galaxy," said former GolTV host and announcer Juan Arango to LatinoPost.com. "MLS will continue to grow and there will be a chance to play international sides pretty much year-round down here. It's an exciting time. We just have to wait and see how things work out."

James also believes that soccer can succeed despite past failures in the South Beach area.

"The research is still being made out, but I think it can be huge," said James. "But you never know. I think this is a great town for soccer. There are a lot of soccer players here. There is a lot of great youth soccer here." 

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