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8 Stadium Options for David Beckham’s Miami MLS Team

beckham fiu miami 8 Stadium Options for David Beckhams Miami MLS Team

The return of MLS to South Florida is inevitable. All indications are that the franchise led by David Beckham is a go. The only two major questions that need to be answered are when the announcement will be made, and where the team will play.

For Major League Soccer to be successful in South Florida, the key ingredients are a winning team that plays attractive soccer, a world-class marketing machine and — perhaps most importantly of all — a stadium that’s ideally located that will be able to welcome soccer fans throughout the region.

The urban sprawl of South Florida spans a distance of approximately 100 miles from Miami-Dade County, through Broward County and up to Palm Beach County in the north. The span of 100 miles, easily accessible via the I-95 Corridor or Florida’s Turnpike, connects the 5.7 million inhabitants of the three South Florida counties. Interestingly, 2.5 million of the 5.7 million live in Miami-Dade County.

Before Beckham announces where his Miami MLS franchise will call home, here’s our analysis of the 8 stadium sites that Beckham and his advisors should consider:

FIU Stadium

Miami

Capacity: 20,000

fiu stadium 8 Stadium Options for David Beckhams Miami MLS Team

Business entrepreneur and investor Marcelo Claure, who wined and dined Beckham when he was in Miami earlier this summer, is on the board of trustees of Florida International University, making the FIU Stadium an early favorite to house the Miami MLS team.

Pros:

1. The location of the stadium is convenient for residents of Miami.

Cons:

1. The stadium is in the middle of a college campus. While it’s convenient for students to walk across campus to attend games, driving from the main road to and from the stadium is tedious to say the least.

2. The stadium features a plastic turf that’s used for college football, but isn’t suitable for a MLS team.

3. Its location will discourage soccer fans from Broward and Palm Beach Counties from attending games. FIU Stadium is 30 minutes south and to the west of Sun Life Stadium. And that’s before taking into consideration all of the traffic congestion and toll booths.

4. Before Miami FC became the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, the NASL team played at FIU Stadium. The attendance for some games at the stadium was in the hundreds.

5. No roof, which means there’s no relief from the heavy rainfall or bright sun.

6. The stadium’s facilities in the modular stadium are poor, so if a MLS team was to play at FIU Stadium, a major upgrade to press facilities and corporate boxes would be needed to bring it up to standards of comparable stadiums.

Rating: D

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Sun Life Stadium

Miami Gardens

Capacity: 76,100

sun life stadium 8 Stadium Options for David Beckhams Miami MLS Team

When Beckham visited South Florida in June to tour different stadiums, he also visited Sun Life Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins. The owner of the NFL team, Stephen Ross, is also rumored to be a co-investor in the Miami team along with Claure and, of course, Beckham.

In the past two years, Sun Life Stadium has hosted several major soccer games featuring attendances of 70,080 for Barcelona vs Chivas, 67,273 for Real Madrid vs Chelsea and 57,748 for AC Milan vs Chelsea — just to name a few.

Pros:

1. The stadium was built purposefully for soccer, so the dimensions and quality of the pitch are ideal for soccer.

2. The stadium is conveniently located alongside the Florida’s Turnpike, with ramps from the highway directly to and from the stadium, making it very accessible.

3. The stadium is within easy driving distance for residents of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties.

4. Since Sun Life Stadium is located just over the border in Miami-Dade County, the team could feature the ‘Miami’ name and still be considered authentic (as opposed to the Miami Fusion who played in Fort Lauderdale, who didn’t have time to change their name at the last minute after a deal to play at the now defunct Orange Bowl collapsed).

Cons:

1. The capacity of the stadium is 76,100, so the stadium could zap the energy even if there was a crowd of 20,000 inside the building.

2. No roof, which means there’s no relief from the heavy rainfall or bright sun.

Rating: B-

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Adjacent to Sun Life Stadium

Miami Gardens

Capacity: TBD

sun life stadium area 8 Stadium Options for David Beckhams Miami MLS Team

Stephen Ross has been considering using some of the land adjacent to Sun Life Stadium to build a stadium for Miami’s MLS team, according to rumors.

Pros:

1. If Ross and Beckham decide to invest by building a stadium adjacent to Sun Life Stadium, it would be a soccer-specific stadium that’s purposely built for the MLS team.

2. The stadium would be conveniently located alongside the Florida’s Turnpike, with ramps from the highway directly to and from the stadium.

3. The stadium is within easy driving distance for residents of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties.

4. The stadium would be in Miami Gardens, so a Miami-name would fit.

Cons:

1. After the Miami Marlins stadium debacle, the likelihood of Beckham or Ross getting public funding for a stadium is slim to none, so Ross would probably have to spend his own money to make the stadium a reality. If that happens, the only question is whether the stadium would be ready in time. And, if not, whether the team would have to play temporarily in the neighboring Sun Life Stadium instead until the new facility was opened.

Rating: A

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Downtown Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale

Capacity: N/A

fort lauderdale 8 Stadium Options for David Beckhams Miami MLS Team

Although no stadium is currently available in downtown Fort Lauderdale, the area has been touted as a possible future location for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers if the team leaves Lockhart Stadium.

Pros:

1. None.

Cons:

1. The cost to build a stadium in the area would be too cost-prohibitive.

2. The real estate is expensive. Plus there may be community opposition to having a stadium built in the area so close to luxury homes.

3. Traffic congestion. The area wouldn’t be easy to get in and out of.

4. Residents of Miami-Dade may be unwilling to drive the distance to attend games in that area.

5. The team wouldn’t have be able to have an authentic Miami name.

Rating: F

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Lockhart Stadium

Fort Lauderdale

Capacity: 20,450

lockhart stadium 8 Stadium Options for David Beckhams Miami MLS Team

Lockhart Stadium has been the home of soccer in South Florida since 1977. Several iterations of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and Miami Fusion have played at the stadium. The ground has also hosted many international games over the years.

Pros:

1. The stadium is conveniently located just west of I-95 in Fort Lauderdale, making it very accessible for residents of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties.

Cons:

1. The stadium is in major need of redevelopment to turn it into a more modern facility.

2. Many residents of Miami-Dade would be unwilling to drive the distance to attend games in that area.

3. There are several obstacles in the way of redeveloping the land if Beckham wanted to turn it into a modern facility. The FAA has a lot of jurisdiction over the area since the stadium is next to an aircraft runway. Plus the stadium had been earmarked for a water park, so the City of Fort Lauderdale may have other plans for the facility.

4. No roof, which means there’s no relief from the heavy rainfall or bright sun.

Rating: C

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FAU Stadium

Boca Raton

Capacity: 29,419

fau stadium 8 Stadium Options for David Beckhams Miami MLS Team

Based in Palm Beach County, FAU stadium is the home of the Florida Atlantic University college football team. The stadium has hosted international soccer friendlies including Germany against Ecuador and the USWNT versus China.

Pros:

1. If the team was to play in Boca Raton, it would be the first professional team in the county and would instantly be on the radar of the 1.3 million people who call Palm Beach County home.

Cons:

1. The stadium is in the middle of a college campus. While it’s convenient for students to walk across campus to attend games, driving from the main road to and from the stadium is tedious to say the least.

2. The team wouldn’t be able to use a Miami-name, thus losing its sex appeal to the league.

3. Most residents of Miami-Dade County wouldn’t drive to Palm Beach County since the perception is that it would be too far to drive.

4. The stadium was built for college football. While soccer can be played there, the sightlines are not conducive to an intimate soccer experience.

5. No roof.

Rating: C-

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Miami Beach

Capacity: N/A

miami beach 8 Stadium Options for David Beckhams Miami MLS Team

Miami Beach is the home to vacationing soccer players and tourists from around the world. The prime real estate doesn’t have a major stadium in the city. The closest thing to it is Flamingo Park, which is a small soccer field surrounded by an athletics track and a small number of bleachers.

Pros:

1. The location would be set in one of the most beautiful cities in the United States.

2. The close proximity to the nightlife and beaches would make it an ideal destination for visiting teams (and fans).

Cons:

1. The traffic congestion in the small city would not be conducive to having a stadium in its vicinity.

2. The prime real estate would mean it would cost a fortune to buy land and build a stadium.

Rating: D-

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Marlins Park

Miami

Capacity: 37,000

miami marlins stadium 8 Stadium Options for David Beckhams Miami MLS Team

The baseball stadium for Miami Marlins was opened in 2012, after costing $634 million (80% of that came from public money). Unfortunately, the baseball team had the second worst attendance in the league in 2013, with an average home attendance of 19,584.

There have been rumors that the stadium may be used on a temporary basis for soccer until a permanent one can be built.

Pros:

1. The stadium is practically a brand-new building.

2. It’s located in downtown Miami, in the heart of the city.

Cons:

1. The negative publicity regarding the stadium among baseball fans and fans of other sports can turned the stadium into the laughing stock of South Florida. Connecting the Miami MLS team to the stadium, even on a temporary basis, will generate bad press.

2. The stadium is not designed for soccer. The sight lines are poor, and it’s not an ideal experience for MLS soccer fans.

Rating: C-

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Conclusion

For an area as large as South Florida, there are few viable options available especially if Beckham has his heart set on having the team in Miami. The most logical solution would be to built a new stadium adjacent to Sun Life Stadium, which would benefit from the location, road access and parking already in existence.

With the right location for Beckham’s MLS team in Miami, the franchise will have a sound foundation to build a successful organization. In contrast, a poor stadium choice in the beginning for the Miami MLS team could sink the operation before it’s even had a chance to sail.


This entry was posted in David Beckham, Leagues: Major League Soccer, Miami MLS Team. Bookmark the permalink.

About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
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