Editorial (January 31, 2018) – David Beckham finally made it happen. In an announcement on Monday, Miami, FL officially became an MLS Expansion city. While this presentation put it in stone more than the 2014 announcement, it was lacking in details.
Futbol Miami MLS: Miami MLS Expansion Happens But More Work To Be Done
For the longest time, the one limiting factor for MLS Miami was the soccer-specific stadium. Beckham had paid the menial expansion fee as part of his player contract with the league. He had business connections and an ownership group that could make it happen. He had local political support if they went about it the right way.
They just needed the land and the stadium situation.
Since the February 2014 announcement, the group has gone through a slew of locations and possibilities. There was the PortMiami idea, the spot adjacent to American Airlines Arena downtown, and the idea to put it next to Marlins Park.
All reports are that the ownership group has settled on the Overtown site next to Culmer Station on the MetroRail. It’s close to downtown. There’s a public transportation option. It’s an area that could use some economic pick-me-up and redevelopment. The group appears to be on the other side of the legal/land acquisition aspects of making this site work.
That was something that was skipped over in announcement on Monday that overall was lacking in details.
While the ownership group has gotten through most of the hard work based on reporting, they still have work to do. They’ve got to secure the stadium construction plan. As of Monday’s announcement, the plan is for the team to begin play in 2020 and open their soccer-specific stadium in 2021. Three years is a reasonable time frame if they get moving. It will take a lot of work, but it can be done.
In the meantime, they’ll need to find a temporary home for the 2020 MLS season. In Miami, they have a few options though none of them are perfect. There’s the recently renovated Hard Rock Stadium. It holds over $65,000 seats though and that could look bad if they cannot fill it or at least sell out the lower bowl with regularity.
After that, their next best option might be Riccardo Silva Stadium on the campus of Florida International University. It currently is home to Miami FC (pending the NASL’s existence this year). It holds 20,000 seats, so it’s a good size for an MLS team. It’s just not flashy and the parking situation is a bit messy.
What becomes of Miami FC (should they still exist by 2020 with all the uncertainty of the NASL) is an interesting sub-story here as well.
The only other option after that is to play at Marlins Park. Yes it’s a baseball stadium, but it’s the only other venue with a large enough capacity that could remotely fit a soccer pitch. Marlins Park has plenty of parking and would be in a good location. The retractable roof would provide peace of mind weather wise. It’s not too huge with less than 37,000 seats. The major downside is having to share the venue with a baseball team and all the complications that MLS fans are familiar with since New York City FC came into the league.
The club also has to come up with a name, logo, social media presence, and sponsors. It’s work, relationships, and contracting that has to be done, but there’s plenty of time.
Lastly, the club has to start moving the ball on the technical side. Beckham expressed a desire to tap into the local South Florida talent. Getting an academy going in some form before 2020 would be ideal. We’ve seen a trend with other MLS expansion teams in the past: Appointing a General Manager and Head Coach at least a year before the team starts play can be huge for early success in the league.
Presumably, Beckham will be using some of his player connections to recruit European DPs and TAM level signings. Expect him to start smoozing up his contacts, especially players with contracts ending in 2019 and 2020.