Barca Miami Expansion Bid Is Far From Perfect
Most pundits agree that Miami is odds-on favorites to get a Major League Soccer team in 2010 or 2011. After all, with a name like Barcelona tied to the club, how could MLS refuse?
While the vast majority of articles about the expansion bid have been positive, I wanted to get a few things off my chest so the news is more balanced than what’s been printed in the media thus far.
Let me first say that I was a Miami Fusion season ticket holder, a member of the Afusionados supporters group and covered the Fusion as a member of the media. Plus, I proposed to my wife on the Fusion pitch at Lockhart Stadium during half-time of a MLS match, so you could say I have a deep emotional bond with the now departed Miami Fusion operation.
For the past several months I’ve been following the behind-the-scenes negotations regarding the Fusion, but never thought it would actually come to this whereby Miami is literally one step away from seeing a MLS team return to South Florida once again.
At this point, I’m extremely excited about the prospect of Miami being awarded a MLS team, but here are my reservations:
- The field at Florida International University Stadium is field turf, not grass.
- The Florida International University Stadium is home to a college football team, not a MLS team — which means that there will be fixture congestion and the Barca Miami team will always have second choice.
- The stadium is in western Miami, which is an inconvenient location for many including (1) people who can’t afford to drive on the Florida Turnpike toll road, and (2) those driving from the east and north east such as residents of West Palm Beach, which is 80 minutes away from FIU.
If Barcelona wasn’t involved in this deal, then there would be a lot more naysayers regarding Miami’s chance of seeing a MLS team come to South Florida again.
The ideal location for Barca Miami would be downtown Miami on the site of the former Orange Bowl where the City of Miami was looking for investors to put in $50 million to help build the stadium next door to the future home of the Florida Marlins baseball team. But when Florida International University is offering its stadium rent-free to a MLS team, how could Barcelona and Marcelo Claure not take them up on the offer?
In life, nothing is perfect. Such is the state of the Barca Miami bid, but if it means the opportunity of professional soccer returning to South Florida, then I’m all in favor of it and will support the team. The question is whether the rest of the soccer fans in the area will do the same.