The Independent newspaper recently published an article about the forthcoming announcement of David Beckham opening a MLS franchise in Miami. The author spewed lazy stereotypes that many US soccer journalists, bloggers and fans have hurled at Miami for years. They recite the reasons why the market is a failure, a “soccer graveyard” as the author puts it. They criticize the low attendance for a US-Honduras match (21,000), conveniently ignoring the fact that the game was played in the middle of a tropical storm. It’s almost as if the Miami haters want the franchise to fail before it’s even been announced.
Hearing people talk bad about Miami when they don’t even live here is irritating. It’s like insulting family. Yeah, you can talk about a family member but if someone else does it, the gloves are off.
I admire that Beckham has faith in Miami and that he’s willing to give the market a shot. Previously, MLS (and its marketing arm SUM) had only thought of Miami whenever they wanted to occasionally promote the sport to the Hispanic market. In terms of TV ratings for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and previous MLS seasons, the impressive TV ratings make the media market highly coveted. And with a name like Beckham involved, the league finally knows that this market can be tapped
Beckham’s name and involvement is a major factor, no doubt. If Beckham wasn’t involved, Miami businessman Marcelo Claure would still be very silent and doing the same thing when he botched the FC Barcelona-led Miami deal a few years ago.
From the outside, Miami is viewed as a city known for its fast cars and hot women. There is luxury galore in this town, no doubt. But if you look closer, Miami is one of the poorest cities in the United States. I remember speaking to someone that is heavily involved in the sports market, and he told me something that really stuck in my mind. “Miami is all about image.”
He couldn’t have put it better.
People lease BMWs so they can turn heads, yet they can barely afford rent on their efficiencies. During the housing market collapse, I heard many stories of people losing houses that cost $300,000-$500,000. Yet they earned eight dollars an hour working in retail or fast food. These stories were rampant in Miami.
True fans of teams like the Miami Heat and Miami Dolphins have been shut out of being able to go see their teams play. To pay $60-$135 for seats puts sports into perspective. Especially when families are faced with choosing between feeding a family or going to see their favorite team play.
The sports fans that can afford the ticket prices are the ones living in the bubble. They’re the ones sitting in the bottom bowl of the American Airlines Arena. The ones who arrive in the second quarter and leave halfway through the fourth. Those are the ones that are marketed everything here. For them, it’s a matter of being seen, and not about supporting a team. They are part of the glitz and glamour that has earned Miami a reputation of being an event town.