Some of the big news out of the MLS has been the announcement that the New York Yankees and Manchester City have joined to help in the creation of a new MLS franchise in New York called New York City FC.
With a new franchise, there is speculation that another city will be getting a franchise as well. Miami seems to be a forerunner, and David Beckham recently stated that he would be excited about a Miami-based MLS club. An MLS franchise out of Miami would be a terrible idea, because there are much better options in the region for a MLS expansion.
Disclaimer to anyone that is pro-Miami MLS franchise: I’m bitter from being from the South and not having professional soccer anywhere nearby.
There are no MLS teams in the Southeastern United States. There is not one team from Texas to the East and Ohio to the South. There is nothing more frustrating than living here and being a soccer fan, whether it is MLS or otherwise. Not only do teams rarely play games in this part of the country, but, even when they do, there is such a small fan turnout that you can’t tell if you’re attending a World Cup qualifying game or a high school championship game.
This part of the country is college football country, home of the SEC and all the crazy fans that come with it. Only two teams in the SEC even have men’s NCAA soccer teams, and they have to play in Conference USA. The Southeastern United States needs professional soccer.
Okay, my rant is over, and I’ll get to the facts.
Miami is a great city; it has everything a budding sports franchise needs. A successful MLS franchise would fit perfectly into the multicultural fan base in Miami. However, Miami is a cruel city to losing teams. The Miami Dolphins are a storied NFL franchise with one of the greatest histories in the sport, and they’re having trouble getting fans to their games.
The Miami Heat is the one team in that area that doesn’t have these types of problems, and that is because they win. If an MLS franchise was to be created in Miami, it would have to win often and early on or it wouldn’t be successful. An early forming franchise will not be widely successful in the first place; it needs a solid, never-wavering fan base for support.
Don’t listen to Beckham (although respect his opinion) or anyone else who wants to put the team in a risky sports city like Miami just because it is a major media market. A team would work well in Louisville, Kentucky, or Colombia, South Carolina, and it would also extend the MLS brand into the Southeast.
Both of these cities are relatively near other MLS franchises, so there wouldn’t be a huge jump in location for teams competing in their division. Both of the major colleges near these cities also have NCAA men’s soccer programs (the University of South Carolina in Colombia and the University of Kentucky in Lexington).
So, Don Garber and the MLS, I’m begging you. Why make the Southeastern U.S. into a soccer-less island? From one soccer-lover to the next, please, create an MLS franchise in Miami later and save us Southern soccer fans.