Major League Soccer is officially coming to Miami. We think. Probably. Which means it's time for David Beckham and his money men to figure out how to make professional soccer a success in South Florida.
One of the few tidbits that came out of last
It's time that the MLS and Beckham figured this out, too, because we here at Miami New Times have been speculating and dreaming up ideas for years about what a top-flight soccer team in Miami should look and feel like. For soccer to work in Miami, it will have to be Miami as hell. It will also need a certain South Florida vibe and must provide unique entertainment people can't find anywhere else.
Because if it doesn't, it won't work. It's that simple. Nobody will come to the games.
Beckham's first stop should be checking out ideas that have been successful for other professional sports teams in the area. Here are a few proven concepts Beckham and his ownership team should rip off if they want to give themselves a shot at success in the 305:
1. Beckham's team should steal the Miami Heat's "Vice" uniform color scheme. The Miami Heat's "Vice" alternate uniforms have been a success not only locally but also nationally. The team did a wonderful job of encapsulating the look and feel of South Beach in a simple and understated way. The colors are fresh, vibrant, and unique, just like Miami.
When people see that jersey, they know where it comes from. It stands out in a crowd. It's so Miami. It's perfect. And Beckham should totally steal it.
2. Miami's MLS club should use the "celebrity ownership" idea from Stephen Ross. Remember when the Dolphins and owner Stephen Ross had the genius idea to sell .000002 percent shares of the team to people like Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas and Serena Williams? That didn't work. Nobody cared. The NFL is above that sort of sideshow-circus act.
The MLS isn't, though. Beckham should actively recruit minority owners with ties to Miami from all walks of life. Get Dwayne Johnson to post on Instagram from the owner's box. Get Diddy to put your logo on limited-edition bottles of his vodka. Get Pitbull and DJ Khaled to mention the team in their songs. Whoever, whatever feels the most Miami, be a part of it. Make Miami's soccer team mainstream nationally — the first thing people think about when they mention the MLS. The opportunity is there.
3. Take the Marlins' "Taste of Miami" concept. Fans should be able to get a chicken tender Pub-Sub and a Wynwood Brewing IPA in the same run to the soccer club's concession stands. They should be able to get a
The Marlins have done a good job of this at Marlins Park. Some people literally go to Marlins games just to eat, drink, and have fun, with a baseball game as a backdrop. If you're going to get people off their couches on a Tuesday night, you better have something special to offer for dinner.
4. Emulate the family atmosphere the Florida Panthers have created. The Panthers, admittedly, don't have much going for them on the ice. Outside of a few young stars and a couple of fun underdog runs in the playoffs, they've largely gone unnoticed in their 30-plus years in South Florida. One thing the Panthers do have going for them, however, is a family atmosphere. Panthers fans just seem happy to be there.
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Have you ever met an angry Florida Panthers fan? They don't exist. And they probably have four kids who love the team, too, even though they suck. Beckham's group should figure out a way to make games a place you want to bring your 12-year-old and all his soccer teammates.
5. Copy the Miami Heat's culture. OK, so it's next to impossible to straight-up steal the culture the Miami Heat has worked three decades to build inside its front office and locker room. But if Beckham doesn't try, he's guaranteed not to get it.
His soccer club should look to the Heat's front-office model, its practice effort, the way it fosters top-level coaching, and everything in between. His team should do it the right way, not the fastest way. They should be proud of the product they put on the pitch, which means no shortcuts. The name on the front of the kit should always matter more than the name on the back. When in doubt, check out how the Miami Heat handled the situation and copy that club.