From its very beginning, Major League Soccer’s proposed return to Miami has seemed a bit off. It’s an exciting market, but one that professional soccer had yet to conquer.
Under the stewardship of global superstar, two-time MLS Cup champion and owner of a discount MLS expansion agreement, David Beckham, the goal of bringing professional soccer back to Southern Florida got under way with a bang. A glitzy press conference featuring Golden Balls himself, smiling and answering questions with fellow investors and MLS commissioner Don Garber.
Pledges to build a spectacular new soccer-specific stadium in the city and on the waterfront were used to hype the handfuls of fans in attendance. Garber spoke of the promise, know how and star power that Beckham and his team of investors possessed. Quickly, a full fledged supporters groups sprung up, club names were debated, kits and crests were floated and stadium renderings filtered out through the media. The hype was real.
Too, the February 2014 announcement that Beckham intended to put his discounted MLS club in Miami came right in the middle of a slew of similar league expansion press conferences. First was New York City FC in March 2013, Orlando in November, Miami was next in February 2014, Atlanta in April and then Los Angeles FC in October.
Of course, the key word in that previous paragraph being “similar”.
None of New York, Orlando, Atlanta or LA have had MLS completely fail there. Miami has — though one could argue that it wasn’t Miami alone that ushered the Fusion to contraction, as the team actually played in Ft. Lauderdale. And while Los Angeles did see Chivas USA fail before too, the city also features the trump card that is the pride and joy of Major League Soccer in the five time champion Galaxy.
But more importantly, unlike the other four cities in that list, Miami’s press conference featured words like “contingent” and “if”. In order to get the Beckham his club, he and his team of investors would have to first secure a stadium. In downtown Miami. And since that announcement nearly a one year ago, we’ve not really heard any good news from Miami, Beckham or MLS.
And it’s that stadium issue which has proven the biggest stumbling block thus far.