When artist renderings of David Beckham’s proposed Miami MLS stadium were unveiled on Monday, the Internet responded with its typical negative and stereotypical comments about Miami as a sports town. Some of the few choice comments included:
“looks good except the stadium will be half full most of the time”
“half full?! I’d be surprised if it was 1/4 full…”
“With only about 8000 seats filled…lol”
The jokes and snide comments about attendances in South Florida are stereotypes that were born more than a decade ago, but soccer fans won’t open their eyes to the trends from the past five years or more.
It’s time to destroy the myth that South Florida has poor attendances for soccer games.
Miami has been getting a lot of heat lately thanks to Englishman David Beckham and his intentions of bringing a Major League Soccer franchise to the Magic City. Beckham has said he believes Miami is a strong sports market, and believes MLS in Miami has everything to be a complete success.
People who are not from Miami tend to disagree with everything Beckham, and most of MLS Miami supporters have been saying that for the past couple of years. Naysayers will point at the low attendance at nearly every other major sport the city of Miami has as reasons to not have an MLS franchise in the city.
However, comparing something like hockey or baseball to soccer is like comparing apples and oranges. They are not the same thing. Poor attendances at Miami Marlins or Florida Panthers games have no relevance to attendances at soccer games.
Let’s take a closer look at the facts.
1. Last summer, the International Champions Cup was played in Miami over two days. In those two days, the average attendance was 52,893. The final day of the tournament at Sun Life Stadium had an attendance of 67,273, which was greater than any of the games played in New York/New Jersey, Los Angeles, San Francisco and other major metropolitan cities in the United States.
2. When the World Football Challenge came to Miami in 2011 with a matchup between Barcelona and Chivas de Guadalajara, 70,080 fans packed Sun Life Stadium to watch the match.
3. In 2012 when AC Milan played Chelsea, 57,748 fans attended the game, which was the largest attendance of the World Football Challenge. The record crowd beat attendances in Seattle, Toronto, New York, Washington DC, Philadelphia and other North American cities.