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MLS won't go to Miami without downtown stadium, commissioner says

Don Garber reiterates league's insistence that a suitable location be secured before the team is officially awarded.

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

When Major League Soccer awarded David Beckham's ownership group expansion rights to Miami it was with one rather significant caveat: The team would only begin play once a downtown stadium plan had been finalized. Now that the first two preferred sites have essentially been eliminated MLS Commissioner Don Garber has reiterated that the expansion bid rests on the ability to find a suitable stadium situation.

"Miami remains a top priority for us," Garber told ESPN's Alexi Lalas. "But we are mindful of the challenges we had in the past and must have the right ownership group and stadium location. David has been working to secure additional partners, all if approved, would be terrific MLS owners. David and his partners have not yet been able to secure a site that we believe provides the proper access and iconic presence that will help ensure success.

"We remain focused on a downtown Miami location, and we will not expand to Miami unless we have a downtown site for the stadium."

What kind of timeline Garber has put on Beckham and his group remains unclear. But with so many interested cities, there is surely a limit on his patience. New York City FC and Orlando City are on schedule to bring the league's roster to 21 teams in 2015 and Atlanta is expected to come on board in 2017. The league has stated that it intends to get to 24 teams by 2020. Sacramento and Minnesota appear to be closest to being MLS ready, but cities from San Antonio to St. Louis to Las Vegas have all made noise about trying to get a team.