Major League Soccer

Does Record Crowd In Miami For Brazil Game Bode Well For MLS?

MiamiWhen Brazil played Honduras on Saturday at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, they played in front of a record breaking crowd of 71,124. That attendance was largest soccer crowd ever in Florida history.

Saturday’s crowd bettered the 70,080 that showed up at Sun Life for Barcelona vs. Chivas in August 2011 and the 67,273 that came on Aug. 7, 2013, for Real Madrid vs. Chelsea.

“We were thrilled to hear (Saturday’s) attendance,” said Charlie Stillitano, CEO of Relevent Sports. “This was an incredible event for the community, especially for fans of Brazil and Honduras. (Saturday’s) crowd and the great attendance for the Guinness International Champions Cup this past August demonstrates the drawing power of soccer in South Florida.”

David Beckham was in town earlier in the week scouting venues for a Major League Soccer franchise, and I sure that he will have taken note of the attendance figure for the Brazil game as well as for the Chelsea v Real Madrid game in August.

There is no doubt that Major League Soccer will allow David Beckham to establish a team in Miami. We can debate whether Miami deserves a team or not, but it seems like a fait accompli that they are going to get one.

The big question is where the team players. Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is a huge soccer fan, and I am sure that he would love to see the expansion team play at Sun Life stadium. But that would be a huge mistake.

It is one thing to attract 71,000 fans to watch Neymar and Brazil play on a Saturday night in Miami. It is a very different proposition to have those fans come out and cheer an MLS side on a Tuesday night against Columbus.

I have seen up close the disadvantage of playing in an NFL stadium is for a team. Over 60,000 came out in Boston for the recent Brazil v Portugal game, an attendance that does not translate into ticket sales for Major League Soccer games where the Revs average attendance this year was just over 14,000.

For soccer to succeed in Miami, the team needs its own soccer specific stadium. The fact that 71,000 fans showed up to watch an international game in the city is a nice sign, but is no guarantee that soccer in Miami will be a success.