Downtown Miami + MLS soccer = A match made in sports heaven

After months of speculation, it’s official: David Beckham and his team have selected the Florida East Coast Railway slip as their preferred MLS stadium site in downtown Miami.

Sketch of plans

As downtown stakeholders ourselves, we think soccer and the urban core are a match made in sports heaven. The new stadium will bookend Museum Park, adding about four acres of new park space along the waterfront. With the stadium, the new art and science museums, and the adjacent American Airlines Arena, the area is set to become one of the richest sports, arts and entertainment centers in the country.

“I’ve always said that our team will be the people’s club – another downtown amenity that makes the entire Miami-Dade community proud,” said David Beckham. “By expanding Museum Park with new public spaces anchored by world-class art and science museums and a world-class soccer club, we’ll be activating the waterfront on a year-round basis.”

_67917180_rio_aerea_maracana_foto_erica_ramalhoExamples are everywhere. The world’s most iconic stadiums – the Santiago Bernabeu, Camp Nou, Old Trafford, and of course this summer’s #1 hot spot, Brazil’s Estádio do Maracanã – are all located in urban centers. Here in the US, Seattle Sounder fans religiously “March to the Match” en masse before MLS games.

Why is downtown a natural fit for this urban sport? It’s simple:

  • Global branding trifecta: Downtown Miami is a global city; soccer is the world’s sport; and David Beckham is an international brand unto himself. What more could sports fans and downtown’s growing base of residents and businesses ask for?
  • A bigger, better park: The new stadium location expands Museum Park by about four acres. This will link more of downtown Miami through the park and create new public space for residents and visitors. The stadium would be situated as far from the bay as possible, so the public would continue to enjoy the waterfront.
  • Soccer’s target audience is already here: Miami’s urban core is home to soccer’s key demographics – millennials, young professionals and internationals. If anyone watched the last World Cup on TV, the majority of footage shown of American soccer fans was captured right here in downtown. By bringing the stadium to the fans, MLS games will be one of the hottest tickets in town.
  • Non-stop action means $ for downtown businesses: Unlike other sporting events that are littered with breaks and pauses, soccer is a continuous game with a short halftime. Rather than waiting in line for food and drinks, attendees will likely find themselves patronizing downtown locations before and after games.
  • Access to public transit: There’s nothing like commuting to a sporting event amidst a sea of like-minded fans. Downtown is Florida’s most connected neighborhood when it comes to public transportation. With the MetroMover, MetroRail, and the Brickell/Biscayne trolley already in service and high speed rail on its way, getting to and from matches will be part of the game day experience (check out the New York Times’ coverage of a recent game day in the northwest).

You can read all about the stadium’s location in the Miami Herald; below get a sneak peek of the Beckham team’s plans for the new stadium, and some snaps of today’s press conference.