Why David Beckham’s Inter Miami MLS Plan Deserves To Succeed
It will be the soccer stadium with a boutique cocktail bar and palm trees on the roof of the stand. Beat that, Tottenham.
As fabulous as Spurs’ new ground is to behold, there wasn’t really much scope there for al fresco Margaritas at sunset in cold, wet, murky London.
In Miami, however, what could be more natural? What, in fact, could be more appropriate in America’s most vibrantly hip city than a soccer club and an arena owned by the sport’s ultimate glamour boy, David Beckham.
Inter Miami will join Major League Soccer next year after six years in the making. They are one of two new teams – along with Nashville SC – who will expand the league to 26 teams next March. Not bad for a competition which began with just 10 outfits in 1996.
The cocktail bar and the palm trees will be installed in the 25,000-seater home being planned for the side at the waterfront Miami Freedom Park site, into which they plan to move in 2022.
When they kick off next Spring, it will be at a temporary base an hour away in Fort Lauderdale.
The first regular season fixture will be on March 14 against Beckham’s former team, LA Galaxy.
It should ensure the required amount of publicity for the new venture, which believes it will succeed because of the love of soccer among the city’s massive Hispanic population, while also appealing across the board throughout South Florida to soccer’s burgeoning American fan-base.
Just this week, there was an announcement of two new signings to add to the 14 players officially listed as squad members on the club’s website, with three-times MLS Cup winning defender AJ DeLaGarza joining along with goalkeeper Luis Robles.
There are no huge names signed up yet, although there has been speculation linking Manchester City’s David Silva, Barcelona’s Luis Suarez and Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil with potential moves to the new “franchise.”
Odds: Who Will Manage Inter Miami?
In the coaching stakes, a series of major figures have been suggested for the manager’s job, most recently Patrick Vieira, currently at Nice in France and with MLS experience under his belt after being in charge at New York City FC.
Belgium's Spanish coach Roberto Martinez and Marcelo Gallardo of River Plate in Argentina – a man currently on Arsenal and Barcelona’s radar – have also been connected with the job.
The giant figures of Zinedine Zidane of Real Madrid and Napoli’s Carlo Ancelotti have also been mooted in the running.
Sportsbooks in the UK have taken a look at the runners and riders to be the club’s first dug-out boss and both rate the Argentine Santiago Solari at 3/1 (+300).
The former Inter Milan and Real Madrid winger, 43, had a five-month stint in charge of Real between October 2018 and March this year.
Ancelotti is next in the running at 6/1 (+600). Former AC Milan boss Gennaro Gattuso is third at 14/1 (+1400) along with former Everton and Manchester United boss David Moyes, who is a regular visitor to Florida.
Zidane, Gary Neville and former US National coach Bob Bradley are 40/1 (+4000). Paddy Power even list former Miami Vice star Don Johnson for a bit of fun at 250/1 (+25000).
It is not unfeasible that Inter matches might in future become a magnet for celebrities in the city because of Beckham’s involvement as President and part-owner along with fellow members of a consortium which also includes Miami-based Bolivian businessman Marcelo Claure.
The club, however, has impressively conscientious social aims as well as plans for success on the pitch.
Their mission statement includes this message: “Inter Miami CF will celebrate all that makes Miami extra-ordinary. We will be multi-lingual and multi-cultural. We will harness the city’s great history and unmatched culture to create new traditions, rituals and symbols that are admired around the world.
“We will bring world-class futbol to this world-class city – futbol that is creative, exciting, unique and as multi-cultural as we are.”
The team will play in black, pink and white to reflect the bold colours of the Miami’s Art Deco architectural heritage.
You might argue that they had better be good, playing in those colours. But it can only help in their formative stage to forge a strong identity with the city.
It’s a very grand plan and deserves to succeed. But Beckham and his partners are blazing a trail through some rough territory in soccer terms as they prepare for next Spring’s launch.
South Florida has played host to an MLS team before – the ill-fated Miami Fusion who lasted four seasons between 1997 and 2001 but failed to attract crowds because they were based outside of the city in – wait for it – Fort Lauderdale.
Tampa Bay City lasted only five MLS seasons between 1996 and 2001.
US Soccer: Time Have Changed
However, MLS has surged in popularity since then and hopes to have 30 teams by the middle of the next decade. Austin FC in Texas, St Louis and Sacramento Republic FC are all scheduled to join in 2022.
The competition is now televised globally and will get a further boost from the fact that the 2026 World Cup will be staged in the USA, Canada and Mexico.
Orlando City SC have also proven since they joined MLS in 2015 that soccer is popular in the state.
The Brazilian superstar Kaka spent two years there after the club’s entry to the Major League and Brazilian striker Robinho is among those on the current roster.
In the MLS season just finished, Orlando attracted an average attendance of 22,761.
US/Canada pro soccer teams average attendance 2019— Bob Williams (@WilliamsBob75) October 13, 2019
1 Atlanta United 52,510
2 Seattle Sounders 40,247
3 FC Cincinnati 27,336
4 PORTLAND TIMBERS 25,218
5 Toronto FC 25,048
6 LA Galaxy 23,205
7 Orlando City 22,761
8 LAFC 22,251
9 NYCFC 21,107
10 PORTLAND THORNS 20,098#mls#nwsl
Inter Miami have been determined to base themselves in the city whose name they bear, which is why it has taken six years for them to become fully-formed and ready to join MLS.
The difference between this venture and the doomed Miami Fusion episode is that Inter have a specified site and date for their move from the temporary base at Fort Lauderdale.
They also have the name Beckham to sprinkle some stardust on their arrival in the big time.
Of course, there won’t be much magic around without success on the pitch, no matter how stylish and cool Inter’s stadium plans and their kit may be.
He won the Spanish La Liga title with Real Madrid and the French Ligue 1 title with Paris St Germain. He also twice won the MLS Cup with LA Galaxy.
According to his wife, Victoria, everything he touches is a success – which is why she nicknamed him “GoldenBalls.”
Now Miami and the MLS looks set to enjoy that particularly personal brand of the Midas Touch.