MIAMI(CBSMiami) – On the week of El Clasico at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium, the facility’s owner (and Miami Dolphins team owner), Stephen Ross, discussed the state of soccer in South Florida.
Ross has made a habit of bringing marquee international matchups to Miami. This week alone featured Wednesday’s Juventus win over Paris Saint Germain and will culminate on Saturday with Real Madrid facing FC Barcelona for just the second time outside of Spain.
Star-studded affairs like ‘El Clasico’ capture the imagination of South Florida Sports fans. But would a fanbase often criticized as fickle be quick to embrace a full-time MLS team?
Stephen Ross has his doubts.
“I think what the fans want to see are the great teams we’re bringing here,” Ross said, referring to the European clubs who often visit Hard Rock Stadium.
As for an MLS team trying to carve out a permanent Miami home: “I think it’d be an awful lot of competition to bring a team here knowing that we (Hard Rock Stadium) are bringing all of these great games to Miami,” Ross added. “You are still fighting for the sports dollar. You’re competing for that.”
The frequency of high-profile ‘friendlies’ would spread those fan dollars thin. While Ross certainly doesn’t shut the door on the idea of MLS success, he warns of a tough road to prosperity.
“I think Miami is a great event city. That’s what it’s really known as. It’s not the great sports city we’d like to think (it is.) Coming in to compete with us? I wouldn’t want to be doing that.”
The ownership group for MLS in Miami is headed up by British soccer legend David Beckham. Asked if Beckam’s group approached him to invest, Ross said: “There’d been conversations. Nothing really serious.”