Questions Remain About Beckham's Choice Of Miami For Potential MLS Franchise
Whether David Beckham can help Miami "become a big-time MLS market" is his $25M question, as Beckham will be faced with questions as to whether his star power is "enough to turn the fickle South Florida sports market into a passionate MLS audience," according to a front-page piece by Michelle Kaufman of the MIAMI HERALD. Questions also remain as to whether the city's "sophisticated soccer-savvy fans" will ever care "as much about Real Salt Lake as they do Real Madrid." It is a "complicated set of questions, which is why Beckham has spent the past six months vetting potential investors and consulting with business advisors." The project "will likely cost a couple of hundred million dollars when you include a stadium and player salaries." But domestic soccer is a "much harder sell in South Florida than international soccer." The melting pot "makes it a natural soccer hotbed, but those immigrants’ hearts remain with their favorite teams abroad," so their "perception of American soccer must be changed." NASL club Ft. Lauderdale Strikers President Tom Mulroy said that Beckham "needs to put together an ownership group with vision and commitment ... and find a perfectly situated stadium that offers a first-class experience." Mulroy said that Beckham will then "need to lure a 'handful of sexy big-name players' to attract South Florida's knowledgeable and demanding soccer fans, many of whom would rather stay home ... than drive to a local stadium and watch what they consider an inferior brand of soccer." Still, the stadium issue "seems to be the biggest hurdle." League sources have "told potential investors they prefer a privately-funded soccer-specific stadium of 20,000 to 30,000 seats, if possible in an urban area with restaurants and shopping nearby." Sources said that Beckham's reps have "explored the option of using Marlins Park as a temporary home" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/3).