MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A rally is planned Thursday afternoon to try to drum up support for a potential Major League Soccer club that would be at least partially owned by legendary soccer star David Beckham.
The rally will be held on the steps of the AmericanAirlines Arena at 4 p.m.. The AAA will be playing host to Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals tonight, where billionaire Marcelo Claure has invited Beckham to attend the game with him and discuss an MLS team.
Beckham is reportedly exploring the possibility of owning a MLS team thanks to a clause in his MLS contract that would allow him to buy a team at a reduced price, according to MLSSoccer.com. Miami is one of several cities Beckham is reportedly considering for an expansion franchise.
According to the Washington Post, Beckham would be joined in the campaign by “Dolphins management.” The Dolphins have put a priority on trying to host more world-class soccer events at Sun Life Stadium, especially with no Super Bowls coming to the stadium in the near future.
However, selling a Major League Soccer team in South Florida could be difficult. The team would generate interest early, but if it struggled could quickly fade into obscurity. Soccer is the number one sport around the world, but in the U.S. trails pro football, pro basketball, baseball, college football, and possibly even hockey in the hierarchy of sports.
Last year, MLS games typically drew around 17-17,500 fans per game around the country. For comparison, the Miami Marlins are averaging 17,689 fans per game this season and are the worst team in Major League Baseball.
Still, South Florida has a history with the MLS. From 1998-2001, the league had a team in South Florida named the Miami Fusion. The team enjoyed success, especially in 2001, however, MLS contracted both the Fusion and the Tampa Bay Mutiny in a cost-cutting move for the league.
MLS has since been expanding its footprint across the country and currently has teams in cities including: Chicago, Montreal, Toronto, Kansas City, Washington D.C., New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Portland to name a few.
However, the league has said it wants to expand into the south, which has traditionally been hardcore American football country.