A final decision has yet to be reached. And the comment from the Miami mayor is, of course, self-serving and biased in his favor, so there’s still an opportunity for Beckham to scout other locations than these two sites. At least I hope so.
And so begins the stadium debate, which may soon generate in a stadium debacle. Nothing has been confirmed. The team hasn’t even officially been announced yet, but if David Beckham selects Marlins Park or FIU Stadium as a temporary site for his Miami MLS franchise, his first move as an owner of a MLS team is one that’ll worry many of the South Florida residents who don’t live in Miami-Dade.
My concern is that because Beckham is being advised by Miami businessman Marcelo Claure (who has his own interests to protect as a member of the board of trustees of Florida International University), Miami Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Simon Fuller (who isn’t from the area), then they’re basing their decisions purely on a Miami-centric viewpoint. By doing so, and putting the Miami MLS franchise in a temporary home of Marlins Park or FIU Stadium, they’re thumbing their noses at Broward County and Palm Beach County to the north, which represents a population base of 3.2 million (56% of the population of South Florida).
Of course, this is only based on a temporary home. A long-term solution of a stadium site near the Miami-Dade County line would be an ideal preferred location for the Miami MLS franchise because it would (1) be more accessible for residents of all three counties, and (2) still be able to retain the Miami name.
If the Miami MLS team selects either Marlins Park or FIU Stadium as its temporary home, the next most telling sign will be where it plans on building a permanent home. Even as a temporary site, Marlins Park or FIU Stadium will have a sold-out opening night. The concern is whether there are enough loyal soccer fans in Miami to continue to support the team six months later after the novelty has worn off.
The reality is that club teams have failed on a consistent basis in Miami. There has never been a successfully supported soccer club team in Miami, while teams in Broward County — to the north of Miami — have averaged much higher attendances for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers to Miami FC to Miami Fusion and to the latest incarnation of the Strikers.