Rumors continue to swirl both in South Florida and nationally about David Beckham’s plans regarding his proposed MLS team in Miami. The global superstar has run into numerous hurdles to build a stadium in the desired downtown location. Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber has made it clear that he wants a new Miami team to play in downtown. Though, given the dynamics of the region and the standard other cities have been held to, that makes zero sense.
The Miami area is decentralized and largely linear in its composition. Downtown Miami has never been the center of local life or business, unlike major northern cities such as Philadelphia, Chicago and Boston. Interestingly, MLS clubs in all three of those markets have been allowed to play far from downtown and, in the case of Philadelphia, an expansion team was awarded to the city despite no attempt to secure land or play near the city center.
MLS has made it clear that Beckham must secure a downtown Miami stadium site before expansion proceedings continue forward.
New York City FC, backed by the billions of Manchester City FC, will begin play this March without any type of soccer-specific stadium plan in place. The double-standard applied in favor of New York when compared to Miami or other new MLS entries Orlando and Atlanta is quite honestly mind numbing.
Per sources who have spoken to World Soccer Talk, Beckham has been scouting private land outside the downtown area. Several potential sites are being looked at but one near Miami International Airport would be especially interesting.
South Florida is not a mecca for public transit. Much like Los Angeles, Dallas and Houston, the large metropolitan area has fostered a car commuter culture. But in recent years, with wages stagnant and volatile gas prices, a real effort has been made in the area to push public transportation forward.
The recently completed Miami Central Station will be the hub of commuter train, rapid transit and bus service in the area. This station has been built just around the corner from Miami International Airport and this spring will connect via commuter rail to Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.
One point we have been adamant about on articles written at World Soccer Talk is the need for any new MLS entry in South Florida to be accessible to all three counties. Otherwise, a hyper-local and ethnic marketing campaign might be the only way to survive. Placing a stadium near the Miami Central Station or along a Metrorail line (which is nearly impossible in Downtown) will make the team very accessible to those who live outside Miami proper.
Major League Soccer’s statements about stadium locale in Miami have been frustrating and illogical. Now is the time for MLS to do an about face and work with Beckham on a site outside downtown and near either a rail line or Miami Central Station. This will make the team accessible to all South Floridians who look forward to a return of highest possible level of professional club soccer to the area.
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