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How would Beckham’s MLS franchise in Miami be any different this time around?

Feb 4, 2014, 9:31 AM EDT

Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat - Game Seven Getty Images

On Wednesday David Beckham, MLS Commissioner Don Garber and the Mayor of Miami-Dade County Carlos Jimenez announced that Major League Soccer’s 22nd franchise will be based in Miami.

The worst kept secret in U.S. soccer is finally out.

But, as there always is with MLS expansion franchises, there are plenty of doubts as to whether a Major League Soccer side in South Florida is a good idea.

Of course, we’ve been down this road before and it ended it tears with the Miami Fusion lasting less than four years after being dissolved due to many issues back in 2001. At the time Garber said the following about soccer in Miami:

“While Miami had the third lowest average attendance, it had the lowest revenue in the league this year (2001), including fewer season tickets which are upfront money that have a higher yield for each team. They (Miami) had almost no revenue from corporate sponsorships. The issue in Miami is the lack of revenue and the lack of future potential revenue. It really lacked viability as a business.”

(MORE: Official – Beckham announces Miami will be Major League Soccer’s 22nd franchise)

Why will it be a different story for soccer in Miami in 2014 and beyond?

Here’s a few reasons to get you thinking…

source: Getty Images

Brand Beckham and his wealthy investors intend to make soccer a success in South Florida.

David Beckham factor

With his own brand flourishing even further since his retirement from the game, Beckham brings an X-Factor that was never present in Miami back at the turn of the last century. Despite Carlos Valderrama being around and some terrific performances from the Fusion under Ray Hudson as coach in their final season in the league. MLS was in its infancy and bleeding money, with the league estimated to have lost over $250 million in its first few years. Miami had the lowest season tickets sold and revenue and sponsorship streams were almost non-existence. That, coupled with the relatively frugal spending of Chairman Ken Hororwitz and the other investors, proved too much for MLS to handle as Miami and the Tampa Bay Mutiny ceased operations in 2001.

(MORE: Video – Relive how MLS’ last Miami side excelled in 2001, then got shut down)

Here’s a quote from Horowitz on the problems facing the Fusion on 2001: “My investors and I have invested close to $50 million in South Florida Soccer, the entity that operates the Miami Fusion, as well as a massive amount of personal time and emotional commitment. We’ve come to the conclusion that the South Florida market just has too many hurdles that we simply cannot overcome.”

If you build it, they will come


Stadium site has been picked in Downtown Miami, will this may a big difference to attract fans?

Plans for a new downtown stadium near the harbor of Miami look swish, extravagant and everything you’d expect from a sports franchise in one of the USA’s most glamorous and tropical settings. A soccer-specific stadium close to downtown Miami would be something to behold, and as we’ve seen in Houston and will see in Orlando, a prime downtown location for your MLS team is exactly whats needed. That’s something the former MLS side in Miami didn’t have, as the Fusion played out near Fort Lauderdale at Lockhart Stadium, where fans couldn’t simply stroll across to the street from the fine bars and restaurants of central Miami to continue the party inside the stadium, and go out on the town afterwards. The only potential issue is that the various nationalities and backgrounds of the people of Miami will clash, and as we’ve seen with the Dolphins, Marlins and other pro Sports team in the area, fans are much more passionate about teams in their homelands rather than getting behind a local franchise.

(MORE: After Miami’s entry to MLS, big question remains – where will the stadium be?)

Prime real estate won’t come cheap for Becks and co. but it’s expected that the major announcement on Wednesday will also reveal plans for a SSS in the heart of Miami. This is a key reason why MLS in Miami could succeed this time.

The DP rule will play into Miami’s hands

A no-brainer here, as Beckham’s contacts across the world and his heady status as a global icon will surely attract top players who want to flock to South Beach towards the end of their careers. Playing in MLS for Miami will be one of the most attractive propositions for any player on the planet. The main focus will be getting bums on seats and fans to watch a spectacular team play. If Becks can work his contacts and bring in three HUGE Designated Players, then the people of Miami and the millions of tourists that flock there year round will without doubt fills the stands. Back when the Fusion folded, there were a few stars names like Valderrama but nobody that really jumped off the page. This time, that will be vastly different.

MORE: MLS back in Miami – Where does it rate on the league’s glamour scale?

MORE: Who’s left? With Miami confirmed, MLS down to two expansion slots

MORE: What They Said – Important quotes from Beckham’s MLS in Miami announcement

  1. mkbryant3 - Feb 4, 2014 at 11:18 AM

    I miss that Fusion team. Ian Bishop, Serna, baby Beckerman, Matroeni, Hudson, Pineda Chicon! They were fun.

  2. midtec2005 - Feb 4, 2014 at 11:43 AM

    “Prime real estate won’t come cheap for Becks and co.”

    If early reports are true it might. It seems that the government down there may be engaging in some eminent domain abuse to get the stadium property. I haven’t been able to find much information about it yet though.

    If that’s true then I hope they lose every single game they play, period. Crash and burn, go bankrupt, etc…. This isn’t supposed to be the Fascist States of America.

    • amarti85 - Feb 4, 2014 at 2:13 PM

      If by eminent domain you mean the local government will lease land that they themselves own, but will probably have move part of a road about 30 yards, onto more property they own, then sure.

      • midtec2005 - Feb 4, 2014 at 3:24 PM

        Nevermind, it’s Orlando City. Eminent domain law states “The property acquired must be taken for a ‘public use;'” I can see where the arguments that it’s for public use could come from… but it’s not. If it’s for public use then I should be able to go play pick-up games there.

        I’m glad it’s not Miami, I’m excited about this!

      • mvktr2 - Feb 4, 2014 at 11:08 PM

        I applaud you amarti85 for getting the government property part correct. It’s an insult to intelligence to refer to government owned property as public property. It is anything but! Fwiw city governments etc. in the US are incorporated, meaning they’re corporations … ultimately sadly for profit corporation with their own armed enforcers, own judges, jails, etc. And people complain about walmart cornering the market! 😉

  3. 407magic - Feb 4, 2014 at 6:39 PM

    Why should Miami get another franchise so fast… Cause it’s beckham? Piss off. Orlando had to fight every step of the way. Even have a stadium vote approval. Miami doesn’t even have that yet and already getting a franchise cause it’s beckham?
    I hope they lose every game and nobody shows up to the games like south Florida is famous for.

  4. footballer4ever - Feb 4, 2014 at 7:11 PM

    People are naturally negative-inclined and it’s easier to find reasons to fail than reasons why this time is different than the Fusion. Sure, Miami’s football club won’t have it easy and expect for everyone to desert other local established franchises just because Beckham is the owner. However, having Becks around will be easier to get the local corporate support to build on and grow in the community. In the end, Miami citizens expect to be entertained other than watching a sporting event. You must invest money, to make money and Horowitz was counting on the opposite and MLS decided to pull the plug. In the end, Miami does not have any issue with lack of football fans, the main issue is not even nationality division, it’s the fact we want to have a top quality club and not just a show-name club.

    • midtec2005 - Feb 4, 2014 at 7:29 PM

      What do you think about trying to get Ray Hudson to come back as manager? I have no idea what that guy is doing now but I think it would be cool if they could do it.

      • mvktr2 - Feb 4, 2014 at 11:10 PM

        Oh I thought you were talking about Ernie Hudson for a moment … Ghostbusters!

      • footballer4ever - Feb 5, 2014 at 10:46 PM

        With all due respect to Ray Hudson and the fans who like to hear his munbo-jumbo hyperboles on BeIn channel, If Becks is on the board, let’s make sure everything is done differently and noone from the Fusion is needed/required. Let’s start from scratch and in a serious /genuine way.

  5. overtherepermanently - Feb 5, 2014 at 6:46 AM

    That proposed PortMiami location – no one lives there. “Downtown” is a 9-5 place, with crap bars and restaurants in the area (that one Hooters will be damn full). Even the majority of the condos across the street are empty. Not as sexy as you think.

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