Miami Heat forward LeBron James and international soccer sensation David Beckham have begun talks regarding a Major League Soccer (MLS) team in Miami.
Shandel Richardson of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel spoke with James, who confirmed he has had “preliminary talks” with Beckham.
“There’s some interest on both sides. David has become a good friend of mine over the years. I think it would be great for this city to have a football club for sure. There’s interests on both sides but it’s preliminary talks.
“The research is still being made out. I think it could be huge. 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. That definitely would help.”
This is just the latest manifestation of James’ growing love for soccer. He is already a part owner of Liverpool of the English Premiere League. On top of that, he “has followed the sport closely during his time off from the NBA season,” writes ESPN’s Michael Wallace.
James also revealed to Wallace that getting more involved in soccer is a decision that his two young sons loved.
“I have grown a great interest in watching the game and learning the guys. 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.”
Should the new MLS team materialize, the four-time NBA MVP and two-time NBA champion will add to his list of growing business ventures. Wallace reports James already owns a sports apparel store in a Miami mall while his wife Savannah will open a juice bar near their residence in Coconut Grove.
More importantly, these developments could mean he will stay in Miami on a long-term basis. He has a player option on his contract at the end of the 2013-14 NBA season. If he exercises this option, he will become a free agent.
For his part, Beckham has scouted the Miami area at least twice last week.He has a $25 million option on his contract with the Los Angeles Galaxy to purchase a soccer team by year’s end.
However, “The overall startup costs would far exceed that amount when factoring in other setup costs such as stadium construction and player acquisitions,” per the Associated Press.
Wallace also adds a source told ESPN in October that Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is also interested in becoming Beckham’s partner in expanding Major League Soccer to Miami once again.
The Miami Fusion was a short-lived MLS franchise which played at Lockhart Stadium from 1998 to 2001. The team soon folded because of poor attendance — an issue which James’ team, the Miami Heat, doesn’t have.