Apr 2, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; ESPN announcer Alexi Lalas prior to the game between USA and Mexico during a friendly match at University of Phoenix Stadium. The game ended in a 2-2 tie. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

MLS Expansion: Downtown Stadium A Must for Potential Miami Team

After a first-half that saw the Los Angeles Galaxy score three goals against the Seattle Sounders, ESPN analyst Alexi Lalas offered some insight on topics ranging to Michael Bradley‘s comments about the officiating to the latest on the DeAndre Yedlin transfer rumors. However, the most interesting came about his conversation with MLS commissioner Don Garber about a potential Miami expansion team.

Lalas was smart to clear up that Miami has not yet been awarded an expansion team. David Beckham only exercised his option before it expired to search for a potential city and be owner of a MLS team. He chose Miami and that’s why it has become a focus of the league to look at Miami.

However, that does not mean it is a “cake walk” to land a squad there. Beckham has run into countless citizens and businesses saying they do not want a soccer team on several possible locations. In addition, he is currently trying to pull in funds from the local government.

“We will not expand to Miami if we don’t have a downtown site for the stadium.” – Don Garber to Alexi Lalas

On Monday during halftime, Lalas relayed a message shared with him from Garber about a Miami team.

“We will not expand to Miami if we don’t have a downtown site for the stadium.”

This is a smart move for the league. There are other locations more attractive if Miami does not play downtown. I’d argue even if a team is downtown in Miami, there are many other deserving locations than Miami. Nonetheless, a downtown Miami stadium could lead to a successful team when it comes to drawing in fans and being profitable. The last thing the league is another Chivas USA situation or another situation that saw two former Florida teams fold in the league’s history.

However, the league has developed and changed greatly since those defunct Florida squads and that is why Garber and the league is adamant on a potential Miami squad playing in a downtown stadium. Build the stadium where the fans are and have the stadium easily accessible. Two ways to make it easy for fans close by to easily get to the stadium. This is one reason why the Phialdelphia Union’s stadium location has benefited the squads’ attendance. It’s located in Chester, not Philadelphia, but the stadium is at the base of the Commodore Barry Bridge and is located conveniently to major interstates. The bridge is one of the many that connects New Jersey to Philadelphia and the rest of Pennsylvania, so the location does not exploit fans majorly.

Miami and Philadelphia seem different when it comes to fan dynamics, so that is why MLS wants a potential downtown or the league won’t expand to Miami. It’s a smart move when there are many other locations that are more attractive that are breathing down the league’s neck to bring a team to their location.

It seems as if Beckham’s dream of owning a team in Miami could be crushed before they were concretely formed.

Tags: Miami MLS MLS Expansion

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