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Can MLS Miami get a stadium deal done?

By Gabriel Mesa - Aug 16, 2014

Another international tournament comes to Miami, and once again the city shows itself as prime real estate for a soccer franchise. A crowd of 51,014 came to watch the International Guinness Champions Cup final between Manchester United and Liverpool FC at Sun Life Stadium earlier this month, in the rain, and with two days’ notice of who was playing.  That is a sign of a dedicated fan base. With the rapid growth of soccer here in the States, Miami looks to be one of the main soccer destinations for the country.
 
 

Although all the signs point to the vibrant soccer community here in Florida, there is still no official word on a Major League Soccer franchise here. Even the star power of David Beckham backing the limitless potential of a franchise here cannot overcome the roadblocks politicians keep putting in his way. After Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines blocked the potential Port of Miami stadium, politicians suggested a location next to American Airlines Arena, home of the Miami Heat. A beautiful design for a community park and world-class stadium on the water was revealed, only to once again be denied.

 

Now Miami, a potential gold mine for soccer in the U.S., could potentially lose out on David Beckham and his soccer franchise. Without a soccer stadium downtown, MLS commissioner Don Garber recently told ESPN analyst Alexi Lalas that the league remains focused on a downtown Miami location, and will not expand to Miami unless there is a downtown site for the stadium.

Reports have surfaced that Sacramento is attempting to move up from the USL Pro league into MLS. Head coach and former U.S. national team player Preki said Sacramento is ready to fill in if Miami can't get a deal done. There is also the possibility of Beckham rejuvenating the Chivas USA franchise and competing in LA against his former team, the LA Galaxy, if he cannot reach an agreement on a downtown Miami stadium.

 

While politics cast a dark shadow, the fans continue to support the Miami MLS movement. The local supporter group, Southern Legion, has gained a lot of momentum after the original announcement. They have been a constant presence on social media (as seen in the photo with this story from their Twitter page), fighting for a stadium and rallying fans to contact their local politicians and show that this is what the people want. With over 300 members already, they always show up in force to Miami’s soccer events or at local bars to support the sport. After the recent flurry of friendlies, they say that it shows “that Miami loves soccer and that there is a ready-made fan base for a team here.”

 

The fans are here, the excitement in palpable, the ownership is ready, the only question is: will the politicians listen?

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