After the confetti-filled launch of Miami’s MLS franchise, Inter Miami CF, at the Adrienne Arsht Center in 2018, team co-owner and soccer icon David Beckham changed out of his snazzy suit and tie and headed to Fado. Beckham wanted to celebrate with the then-unnamed team's supporters club, Southern Legion, and there was no better place to do that in Miami than the Mary Brickell Village bar. Fado had long been soccer's Miami home and was supposed to be Southern Legion's hub too when Becks' team debuts in 2020 — until the bar abruptly closed last month.
In an email to New Times, Ellen Peacock, senior marketing manager for the national Irish pub franchise, pointed to the neighborhood’s changing landscape and disruptive construction as reasons for the closure. She added there aren't any plans to open another Fado location in Miami.
No big deal. Soccer fans can just find another bar to watch footie, right? Actually, it’s not that simple. Most sports bars are happy to cater to soccer fans every four years during the World Cup but are less inviting in the years in between. TV and volume preference tends to be given to American football, basketball, and baseball. And because some soccer matches take place bright and early, many places aren't even open during play.
Fado, on the other hand, welcomed fans of the beautiful game year-round, including the Miami Arsenal Supporters Club (MASC). The group had become such a Fado staple that the bar hung Arsenal scarves in the private space where fans cheered on their English club. MASC president Chris Allan estimates the watch parties drew around 40 people every week and 150 to 200 fans for bigger matches.
Since Fado closed its doors, the group moves from bar to bar in hopes of finding one that will stick.
“Lots of places have reached out,” says Allan, who doesn’t expect to decide on a new spot until after the season. “They want to show soccer to get a new clientele. But their primary function is happy hour and Friday and Saturday nights. None of them have the same feel as Fado. Fado was a football bar.”
The Miami chapter of the American Outlaws, a U.S. soccer supporters club, also called Fado home. They helped make Fado the go-to bar for fans of the Yanks (and local news outlets working on World Cup fever stories). With Fado gone, members were left without a place to watch last month's U.S. men’s match for the first time AO vice president Eric Corey could remember.
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“If you walked into Fado, they always had soccer on,” says Corey, who is also vice president of the Southern Legion. “You didn’t have to ask the bartender if it was OK to change the channel to a soccer game and deal with them saying soccer isn’t a real sport.”
It's not all doom and gloom for Miami's soccer community. Soccer fans can usually count on Coral Gables' Fritz & Franz Bierhaus and, sometimes, Churchill's Pub in Little Haiti to show matches. And Corey says Lost Boy on Flagler Street and John Martin's Irish Pub, another Gables bar, are becoming more soccer-friendly.
But for its last meetup, AO Miami set up shop at American Social. Why there? The convenient Brickell location was a big factor, according to Corey. And the decor didn’t hurt either.
“You walk in there and it’s all Americana,” Corey says. “The whole bar is painted red, white, blue."