LOS ANGELES -- On a day that Los Angeles Football Club announced that it had secured a site for a new stadium, MLS Commissioner Don Garber indicated that he will be visiting Miami within the next week "to meet there and try to figure out how to move that project forward."
David Beckham and his group, Miami Beckham United, have been attempting to secure a site for a new stadium for well over a year now, but have been unsuccessful so far. Garber is on record as saying MLS will not put a team in Miami until there is a stadium deal in place. Two preferred sites on Miami's waterfront were rejected by Miami politicians, who have instead been pushing a site next to Marlins Park. But so far Beckham's group has yet to publicly express interest.
Miami city commissioner Frank Carollo, whose district includes Marlins Park, said in an interview earlier this month, "I believe there is interest in a site off of Marlins Park. However, there have been no hard talks about it. Beckham's group is still doing their due diligence, and we're giving them their space."
Garber echoed those sentiments.
"I remain optimistic and committed to David Beckham and his partners, but until we have more information it's hard for us to have any answers," he said following Monday's LAFC stadium announcement. "There are a number of different sites we're looking at, but none have popped up out of the pile to give us the sense that there is a deal that can be done immediately. That being said, David and Simon [Fuller] and Marcelo Claure are as focused if not more focused than ever before, so there is no lack of activity. It's just a lack of any definitive news."
Garber's Miami trip will follow a visit to St. Louis on Tuesday where he'll meet with local leaders to gauge interest in bringing an expansion team there. A task force headed by Dave Peacock and Bob Blitz is in the process of trying to build a new riverfront stadium for the NFL's St. Louis Rams -- or possibly another NFL team -- and has made public its desire to have an MLS club as one of the tenants.
With regard to LAFC's announcement, Garber said that the club's decision to delay its inaugural season until 2018 had forced a rethink on the part of the league as to when other expansion clubs would begin play. Atlanta is slated to start in 2017, while Minneapolis, who currently plays in the second-tier North American Soccer League had targeted 2018 as its first season in MLS. Minneapolis has been given a July deadline in order to get its stadium plan together, but has had difficulty obtaining the same public subsidies that were used to help finance other Minneapolis sports venues.
"It wasn't until recently that we realized that we wouldn't be able to kickoff here [with LAFC] in 2017," he said. "Once the decision was made to move to 2018, it has us taking a step back to start thinking about what the rollout of the next couple of teams will be. We don't have an answer to that today. We've got to spend some more time with our new team in Minneapolis and get an understanding of what their timeline is."
The fact that LAFC has been able to get a stadium plan together has had the effect of shining a light on the struggles of New York City FC to find a suitable site. The team is currently playing at Yankee Stadium, though a recent report in the New York Times indicated that the club was exploring a potential partnership with Columbia University to build a stadium there. Garber would only say that NYCFC's search is ongoing.
"Every city is different, and every opportunity presents itself at different times," he said. "New York City FC has been working really hard on getting a stadium project done. They are so committed. This is an ownership group that really loves our league and loves New York City and is going to do whatever they can to get a deal done. But it's complicated and these deals take time. Remember, [LAFC] isn't a year project, it's almost a 10-year project."