MLS Expansion: Here Comes Miami

MLS Expansion: Here Comes Miami

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On May 1, 2013
  • 10 Comments
  • David Beckham, Features, Miami Expansion, MLS Expansion

It seems as though the expansion window isn’t closing in Major League Soccer anytime soon. We know New York is next and that Orlando is probably very close as well.

After that it may be a true toss up as to where the league may go for club number 22. Atlanta seems eager again and there have been some rumblings that Nashville, Minnesota, San Antonio and even St. Louis could join the mix as well before long.

But according to Steve Goff, Miami may be picking up some real steam before long with David Beckham.

Getting word a David Beckham-backed effort to bring MLS to Miami is about to pick up a steam and could go public in about a month. The league has prioritized a second club in New York for the 20th team and is intrigued by Orlando’s aggressive expansion campaign, but with Miami featuring Beckham and Dolphins management, Miami has quietly re-emerged.

Miami has always been a tricky city in my mind to have a team in. I’ve long said that the league needs at least two or maybe three clubs in the Southeast to really make it work over the long haul. Miami would be a rival instantly to an Orlando team that should likely get into MLS in the future.

We’ve known for years that Beckham would have some influence with a MLS club before long thanks to the clause in his old contract with the league that stated he could be an owner of a club some day. Miami always seemed to be the destination for a Beckham-owned club.

I won’t go any further into this but for the time being it certainly sounds like we’ll start hearing more about Miami in the coming weeks and months. Yeah, this expansion race just continues to get more interesting.

 

  • Mark Dillon

    I guess that Miami would join Houston in the category of terrible and feared road game venue in July-September. Heat stroke would be their twelfth man. Of course, the same is true in Orlando

    • Agreed. Though I would say if the league continues to start in early March it would balance things out when those clubs (Miami, Dallas, Houston, Orlando) have to travel to cold weather towns.

  • The wound from the Miami Fusion is still so fresh, it’s hard to see how this could work. Also, the Dolphins have the lowest attendance figures in the NFL, the Marlins might as well be playing on Mars and the Heat seem to be the only show in town for fans.

    • I’ve written about the issues in Miami before on here. Definitely a concern. Though some would argue that the Dolphins and Marlins have ownership issues to blame and that in the right situation Miami would be a top destination for some Latin players. I still have my reservations about Miami (personally I’d rather see Tampa, Nashville or NC be the second SE team before Miami).

  • I don’t see Florida as a viable market for MLS. I’m there now, and there is no interest whatsoever…perhaps not in the entire South! Why is St. Louis never mentioned? It has a history of soccer. Is MLS a largely ‘blue state’ phenomenon?

    • It is all about stadiums, the right owners and a good supporters group. Orlando appears to have it, which is why they should work whenever their time comes. I still believe that Carolina could work too, with the NASL’s Railhawks moving up but they lack the money from the ownership and a big enough stadium to do it.

      As for St. Louis…they had traction before but the guy leading the charge wasn’t the right one for MLS. His USL team folded in a year and no one else has stepped up since. I do think someone will eventually. Its a good market, history with the sport. I’m hopeful in the coming years someone will get that market back in the expansion focus.

  • F19

    Florida is a great market for domestic soccer. In fact it had two of the most well-known and respected soccer towns in America – Fort Lauderdale and Tampa Bay – before MLS came in and wrecked the whole thing with their terrible ownership situations and asinine NASL-phobia inspired branding.

    If MLS wants to come back to South Florida the only sensible option is the Fort Lauderdale Strikers for numerous reasons. For one the current NASL D2 club is averaging over 4,000 fans per game in it’s 2+ seasons since being moved and rebranded from Miami FC(which averaged a generously announced 1,400/game over 5 years). That 4,000/game is better than Seattle’s D2 tenure(3,371). Chew on that tidbit for a minute.

    Secondly Miami has never supported the domestic pro game. 6 pro teams of various levels have come and gone there since the original NASL Gatos in 1972. And all of them faded into history with a wimper, drawing horrible crowds. 4 of them folded outright and 2 moved north to become the Fort Lauderdale Strikers seeing large upticks in fan support. That lackluster support would be even worse these days with worldwide soccer available with ease on TV. The scores of River, Boca, Flamengo, Alianza and so on fans in Dade have no reason to come out and support an inferior product when their teams from back home are easily consumable in the states. Some washed up Latin DPs would be a novelty for a few games, but they’d quickly revert to staying home on Saturdays, content with watching the likes of Neymar on TV.

    And lastly and most obvious – there is no place to play in Miami. They will never approve any new stadium down there after the disaster that has been Marlins Park. And the only two existing options are totally unsuitable for an MLS team. FIU Stadium in far flung Kendall has plastic grass and is as bare-bones as you can get. The much more likely Sun Life comes with a capacity that is 57,000 more than needed(talk about atmosphere!) and would be paired either with a crappy lease, or perhaps worse direct involvement from, the Miami Dolphins ownership.

    MLS can capture the South Florida media market in Fort Lauderdale, with a small fraction of the risk of poor fan support you’d get in Miami. You’d get a team rich in history and success, just like the recent additions in Portland, Seattle and Vancouver(and to a lesser extent Montréal). You’d get a new SSS instead of a cavernous football venue(the Strikers are currently in pursuit of a new venue or massive upgrades to Lockhart). If MLS let’s the glitz of South Beach blind them again, it’ll be Revolution South.

    • F19

      And for those who think FTL is not a big enough market for MLS, think again. Broward County – let’s call it the Fort Lauderdale metro area – has 1.7 million people alone, which is bigger than the Merseyside metro area(Liverpool) at 1.38 million. Throw in neighboring Palm Beach County to the north and you’ve got a population of over 3 million(bigger than 7 current MLS metro markets) – which is 19.4% Hispanic as opposed to the 62% you find in Miami-Dade. Lots of soccer fans in Miami, very few willing to support the American game.

  • Uncle Ed

    Beckham alone is a brand. He’ll bring in sponsors, quality players and tons of fans.

    While I agree with F19’s comments above concerning SunLife Stadium being a terrible place for an MLS team due to it’s size. I disagree with some of his ideas. More so because he works for the Strikers so he is biased and pro Strikers/NASL, so yeah, he wont go to an MLS game because of that.
    As an actual fan, I can tell you that if they bring in quality players, promote and create a great event. People will come no matter what they are called or where the stadium is located. Yes, the Strikers have tradition, etc. But with the current D2 players they have, you wont average more than the 4k at the end of the season. What good is it if the owners don’t even bring in quality teams to play friendlies against? What good does it do if people still don’t know the Strikers exist?
    Beckham, will ensure everyone knows his team exists. He’ll be everywhere and give the Strikers, Fusion or whatever he wants to call his team more headlines than the current Strikers could ever dream of.
    MLS knows South Florida is a huge media center (Be in Sports, Univision, Telemundo, Gol TV, etc are all based in South Florida). They want to tap into that. They regret leaving in the first place. A team in Miami would give the media instant access to players and MLS personnel and will give MLS the doors to sell their brand to Latin America and Europe.
    Beckham could put a team in Albuquerque if he wanted to and it would still be successful.

    • Strikers Fan

      Sorry Ed, but your whole argument really just boils down to one thing – your assumption that simply involving Beckham will override every legitimate issue F19 raised. I think that is extremely optimistic, and unrealistic thinking. Beckham doesn’t change the Miami market or the population there, or the fact that there is no suitable place to play. The Strikers could easily have MLS level support if they upgrade their stadium situation, which is actually possible in their case unlike this fantasy Miami team, and by spending the money to advertise properly. That’s it. The only thing stopping the Strikers from being in MLS after those two things would be themselves choosing not to go for it.