David Beckham has cleared a major hurdle in his bid to secure a specialist football ground for his Major League Soccer team after voters in Miami approved the development of a 25,000-seater stadium.
Former England captain Beckham and his fellow investors, including Miami businessmen Jorge and Jose Mas, won the approval of around 60 per cent of the electorate in Tuesday's ballot to turn a city-owned golf course into their proposed Miami Freedom Park complex.
As well as the home stadium for MLS expansion franchise Inter Miami, Miami Freedom Park is set to feature extensive hotel and office-space provision, with the owners also funding an adjacent 58-acre public park.
"What can I say other than thank you, gracias... what can I say?" Beckham told a crowd of several hundred fans at a rally after the results came in.
Inter Miami's ownership group needed to secure the vote to avoid a public bidding process on the land and they must still win approval from four out of five city commissioners – backing that is far from assured given two of them, Willy Gort and Manolo Reyes, have voiced opposition to the plans.
"I started this dream five-and-a-half years ago... to bring a team to Miami, to bring a team to this great city," Beckham added.
"To bring a team to you, the people. We’ve had some speed bumps along the way. We've had a few problems along the way.
"We've proved to the world that persistence, patience, makes things happen.
"We are going to bring a championship-winning team. We are going to bring great players. We are going to create homegrown talent."
MLS Commissioner Don Garber hailed "a historic day for the sport in our country and another building block in our vision to become a soccer nation".
We also thank Jorge and Jose Mas, David Beckham and Marcelo Claure for their hard work and deep belief in MLS. We look forward to Inter Miami CF’s launch in 2020. (3 of 3)— Don Garber (@thesoccerdon) November 7, 2018
Garber added: "Inter Miami CF's plan for a world-class soccer stadium as the keystone for Miami Freedom Park will help transform the city of Miami and be a hub for soccer fans from all over South Florida."
Inter Miami are due to begin playing in the 2020 MLS season, initially at a temporary home that is likely to be either Miami Dolphins' Hard Rock Stadium or Marlins Park.