LeBron James talking soccer partnership with David Beckham in Miami

Miami Heat star LeBron James says he is in talks with soccer star David Beckham, right, to bring a Major League Soccer expansion team to South Florida.
(J. Pat Carter / Associated Press; Joerg Carstensen / EPA)

A fierce topic of debate at the last World Cup centered on how good a soccer player LeBron James would have been.

We’ll never know the answer to that question, of course. But we may soon find out how good a soccer owner he can be after the Miami Heat forward confirmed he is in talks with former Galaxy midfielder David Beckham to bring a Major League Soccer expansion team to South Florida.

“There’s some interest in both sides,” James told reporters Monday. “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.”

James already has an ownership stake -- alongside Boston Red Sox chief John Henry -- with Liverpool of the English Premier League. However the potential MLS franchise would likely be a more hands-on affair for James. And by partnering with Beckham, it would give the new team immediate appeal and recognition in a city that is fueled by celebrity star power.

“The research is being made out but I think it can be huge,” said James, a four-time NBA MVP and two-time champion. “This is a great town for soccer. There are a lot of soccer players here. There is a lot of great youth soccer here.”


Beckham, who played his last match for the Galaxy in the MLS Cup in December, had a provision in his contract allowing him to start an expansion franchise at a deeply discounted price. And while he has reportedly explored other cities, he seems to have settled on South Florida as the home for that team.

In recent weeks he’s toured several potential venues for the team, including hulking Sun Life Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins, and Marlins Park in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood. Beckham has also been meeting with potential investors, which is where James comes in.

Putting another professional soccer franchise in South Florida, where the sport has failed twice before, could be a few years away, however. The MLS has already committed to adding franchises in Orlando, Fla., and New York City for the 2015 season, growing the league to 21 teams. And an MLS executive said he believes Atlanta will get the next invitation and could join the league by 2017.

But league Commissioner Don Garber has publicly said he would like MLS to comprise 24 teams by 2020, with South Florida among the areas the league favors.


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