There is no shortage of Major League Soccer news out of the American southeast – which is a little weird when you consider that Major League Soccer has been little more than a rumor in American southeast for well over a decade.
The Miami Herald’s Michelle Kaufman, a veteran soccer writer who once uttered the most brilliant, impromptu line I have personally heard about journalism in the sport, reported via Twitter this evening that David Beckham is in town scouting potential stadium sites.
Last week, Kaufman wrote a big, sweeping piece on the Beckham-Miami-MLS expansion project, asking essentially if this puppy dog has a chance of barking? If Beckham, Simon Fuller, et all cannot sprinkle the magic dust around Miami, who can? Still, it’s no slam dunk, as Kaufman writes:
Is Beckham’s star power enough to turn the fickle South Florida sports market into a passionate MLS audience? Will Miami’s sophisticated soccer-savvy fans, who lead the nation in TV ratings for World Cups and European league matches, ever care as much about Real Salt Lake as they do Real Madrid? FC Barcelona drew 71,000 at Sun Life Stadium for an exhibition match against Chivas Guadalajara last summer. But will those same fans (some might call them soccer snobs) show up to watch a Miami MLS team play FC Dallas?
Related, here is a swell piece out of Miami on five potential sites.
Of course, there’s more to MLS expansion life than Beckham – even if there aren’t $50,000-a-month PR firms out there leaking news about it.
All this sports-stadium smoke moving over Atlanta was bound to waft over into soccer valley. Sure enough, a few smarties wondered whether Turner Field, about to fall-down-go-boom as a baseball ground, might be the perfect solution for a city flirting with MLS expansion?
Background: The former, small-beer talk of MLS in Atlanta mushroomed recently when Arthur Blank, owner of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, got into serious conversations with MLS commissioner Don Garber about a new football stadium that would double as a home for pro soccer.
The Seattle Sounders’ terrific arrangement and cooperation with the NFL’s Seahawks is the model here, although I continue to call that one the outlier. Which means I continue to be nervous about a joint arrangement in Atlanta, which could turn into another Giants Stadium situation, Gillette Stadium situation, Arrowhead Stadium situation, etc. If you don’t know your MLS history, suffice to say, those were/are pretty awful situations for MLS. But that’s another conversation.
Anyway, Atlanta’s MLS interest is all about Blanks’ new stadium, not about a soccer team becoming the primary tenant at suddenly lonely Turner Field, which was always an odd duck of a facility anyway, a retrofit for baseball after the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
Anyway, even if you think that’s what should happen in Atlanta, its’ not an option now, apparently. They are committed to tearing the thing down.
Oh, we cannot have a post on MLS expansion in the American Southeast without mentioning Orlando. So … we just did.
Nothing new to report on that one today.