The port of Miami may have a shiny new 25,000-seat stadium by the year 2016. Its occupant? A second Miami-based Major League Soccer team (the first, the Miami Fusion, folded in 2001). But this time around former England soccer star David Beckham is running the show.
With stadium plans now unveiled, a realistic timeframe for when to expect soccer back in the southeast United States can be the next hurdle for the recently retired 38-year-old and his posse. “The funding is in place. The goal is to have a team playing by 2016,” said one of Beckham’s advisors.
The open-air stadium, which would sit next to the Miami Heat basketball arena right on the Miami waterfront, would feature steep grandstands to give fans the feeling of being as close and on top of the action on the pitch as possible. “When people think of Miami, they immediately think about being near or on the water,” said Beckham.
However, concerns over crowding at the port have already been brought up, and a number of secondary location options have entered the discussion. Two possibilities have been scouted, reportedly, near the Miami International Airport and the Florida International University.
The sports buzz in Miami is very different than it was at the turn of the century, when the Fusion failed to put down real roots and thrive. The Heat are the best basketball team in the world, with the best basketball player in the world in LeBron James; MLS on the whole has made considerable progress in becoming a more popular sports league in the U.S. On top of that, Beckham has run few failed ventures in his career, so this is looking very hopeful for MLS and Miami.
Whether or not this stadium is approved is less important than the fact that Beckham has exhibited a strong desire to make Miami an intriguing destination for some of the world’s best footballers. The expansion of MLS in Florida, with Orlando City Sporting Club and now in Miami, and in New York with the New York City Football Club joining the New York Red Bulls, has given new hope for the sport in the states.
VISUAL CONTEXT: MLS EXPANSION AND OVERALL ATTENDANCE