by Max Ramos-Paez
Welcome to Miami! Bienviendo a Miami! As the Will Smith song suggests, Miami is a place of several languages. It’s truly one of the few cities in the US where speaking English is not a requirement for a comfortable lifestyle. On the sunny streets of the Miami from South Beach to Hialeah you can hear Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole and many other languages. For a large part, the people who speak these varied tongues mostly come from lands where football/soccer/futbol is king. While the Heat are all the rage right now, the Marlins play in a shining new home (and yet continue to stink), and the Dolphins go into a season with the most optimism the team has had in quite a while, soccer still runs deep in this city.
And with that in mind, for the past few months, rumours have spread that the David Beckham himself is considering starting a MLS franchise here in the Magic City. Now Miami once before had a MLS team, the Fusion, but due to them playing 40 miles north in Fort Lauderdale, MLS on the verge of financial ruin and collapse, and an unwilling owner, the Fusion were folded alongside their fellow Florida brethren, the Tampa Bay Mutiny in 2001. Since then, while MLS has expansion into many different regions of the country, the entire Southeast region of the US has been completely empty and somewhat forgotten. But with the successful expansion into the Northwest with Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver and the soon to come NYC FC taking hold in the World’s City, MLS now has ambitions in the Southland.
Alongside possible expansion candidates in Orlando and Atlanta, Miami is aiming to join the league by 2016. Now Beckham, with the help of Bolivian billionaire Marcelo Clare aims to eventually build a soccer specific stadium within the city limits, the rumoured plan of using Florida International University’s American football stadium as a temporary home is seen as an acceptable place where to start the team. The stadium has a 20,000 capacity, which fits perfectly with MLS standards and can be accessed by two major highways, making the usual excuses of Miami residents to not go to a game inexcusable.
Now the biggest reason detractors say Miami should not get a team is the city’s notoriously bad attendance figures for its sports teams, but with the right front office who’d be willing to spend money within MLS salary cap standards on players with some fame in their names and build a team that play attractive football, the Magic City could get behind the team playing the game that many Miamians love.
MLS has stated that it would like to return to Miami because like New York, Miami is a sexy place to have a team. While the Portlands and Kansas City’s of the world can make for some great fan cultures, it’s the LA’s, the New York’s and the Miami’s that get you noticed and marketable on a world stage, and MLS wants some of the “magic” of the Magic City to rub off on itself.