Garber: Beckham's Miami franchise 'coming together rather soon'

TORONTO -- MLS commissioner Don Garber said details of David Beckham officially receiving an MLS expansion team are being finalized, and that "something is coming together rather soon."

At the end of July, Garber said Beckham's project was "at the finish line," and then said an announcement could come "perhaps by the end of the summer." However, months passed and a key partner in the Beckham group expressed doubts last week.

But Garber told ESPN FC in an exclusive interview that the plan is still to go forward with the ownership group's team in Miami.

"I've been saying all along we need a number of things to go forward with David Beckham and his option: a solid ownership group -- one that hopefully could be very connected locally -- and a finalized stadium plan," Garber said.

"For many years now, we've not been able to close the loop on those two issues. I believe we are getting closer, and I believe we'll have a team in Miami. Actually, I believe something is coming together rather soon.

"We had a meeting last August in which we presented an opportunity to the MLS Board of Governors, which they approved us pursuing, and we're still trying to finalize the details of that."

Though it's not the first time that the league has hinted that the finish line for Beckham's project is in sight, the process by which he would receive a discounted MLS expansion franchise has been fraught with delays, especially over finding land for a stadium.

Miami Beckham United thought they had made a breakthrough last June when the Miami-Dade County Commission voted to approve the sale of a three-acre parcel of land. With Eldridge Industries CEO Todd Boehly joining an investor group that already included Beckham, his business partner Simon Fuller, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure and Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke, the path seemed relatively clear.

The aforementioned August meeting saw both Beckham and Boehly present their plan. All that was left was for MBU to obtain zoning changes from the Miami City Commission.

But a lawsuit from local property owner Bruce Matheson has created an obstacle. Matheson sued the county over the fact that the sale of the land was not opened to competitive bidding. The suit was initially thrown out, but Matheson has appealed, which one source indicated could create a delay of several months.

Leiweke expressed frustration over the setbacks, and in an interview with the Toronto Sun wondered aloud if the deal would get done. Garber said he didn't agree with Leiweke's assessment.

"Tim has always been a very good friend of mine, but I thought his comments were premature," Garber said.

Garber added that he thought the setback was temporary.

"The litigation slowed things down, but I don't believe the litigation will prevent us from being in Miami," he said.

The delay comes as MLS is set to announce two new expansion franchises later this month from a list of four finalists that includes Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville and Sacramento.

The Miami project has always been separate from the other expansion bids, and when asked if MLS might announce three teams and replace Miami as team No. 24, Garber said, "It's not being contemplated today."

However, speaking in his "State of the League" address later on Friday, Garber said it was "conceivable" that a third expansion team could join the league before Miami finally hits the field.