So it seems that this will be a week to focus on Miami. Amazing that after the synchronized failures of Miami and Tampa Bay, MLS is planning on once again doubling down on the Sunshine State. With Orlando ready to start play in a year, multiple sources are reporting that Beckham to Miami is a done deal, and a new soccer team will rise in either 2016 or 2017. This blog is closing in on the start of its sixth year, and Miami has been the white whale since the first day that I wrote. Before Beckham, there was FC Barcelona, and at the time, I staked out a position suggesting that Miami was a bad idea. Some of the concerns I had then are still true, while others are no longer a problem. Here is what I said then:
The Spanish powerhouse combined with Marcelo Claure and Florida International University to submit a bid to bring MLS back to South Florida. As MLS fans well know, the Miami Fusion entered the League as an expansion team in 1998 and were contracted just four years later. That background, combined with South Florida’s rather weak history of supporting its teams (Florida Marlins anyone?), has lead many to scoff at any move back to the Miami area. Add in the lack of a Soccer Specific Stadium (the team would share with the FIU Football team) and the Miami bid seems like a sure loser.
Count me among the unconvinced. The “beloved” Miami Dolphins struggle to sell out their games, the Panthers are barely a blip on the Miami scene and Marlins are an annual embarassment. Why would MLS be any different? The idea of 9,000 fans snoozing through Sunday afternoon game in 110 degree Miami August heat, is a nightmare scenario for supporters of the League. MLS may love the idea of Barca dumping money into its coffers, but like Chivas before them, I see little chance of a big time soccer power adjusting to life in Major League Soccer. League rules will not permit “Barca USA” to serve as a farm team of the parent club or as a way station for up and coming talents. MLS should have no interest in serving as a marketing opportunity for the Spanish Giants. As much as Barca might love the idea of selling jerseys in North America, I think the League would be far better served taking $40 million from St. Louis and and Portland in 2011.
Can Miami succeed? I remain skeptical.
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