Why will MLS be successful in Miami now?


MIAMI – It's true, Miami is getting a major league soccer franchise, but it's not like the city has never had one before. From 1998 to 2001, Miami had the Miami Fusion, but they eventually folded due to poor attendance. So why does Beckham and company think they can be successful?

"The time is right now for soccer," said Tom Mulroy, president of Fort Lauderdale Strikers. "The market has changed. It has gotten bigger. There are a lot of opportunities."

Mulroy has been a part of South Florida's soccer landscape since it began, and his Strikers still play at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.

"I played here with the Miami Toros in the original North American Soccer League," Mulroy said. "Actually, I played against Pele here in 1976."

Mulroy said the game's popularity has exploded in the last decade, especially for people who call Miami home.

"We are the number No. 1 per capita TV audience in the United States to watch World Cup," Mulroy said.

Another reason they may be successful is where they will play the game. Even the Miami Fusion ended up in Fort Lauderdale at Lockhart Stadium, but Beckham is banking on Miami fans to fill those seats.

Some of those fans showed up at Wednesday's announcement to support Beckham. They think the man in that tailored suit has big enough shoulders to carry major league soccer into Miami and into the future.

"I think Miami is a completely different city than it was 10 years ago," said Chris Allan, member of Southern Legion, an MLS supporters group. "I think it is the gateway to the Americas, and I think that now, especially with Beckham and his brand and his people and his contacts, he can't lose."