What was until recently a vacant lot at 2728 NE 2nd Ave has been transformed into an outdoor, turf soccer complex just outside the center of Midtown. The center, called Soccer Town, is set to open by March 1.
What it has to offer
Soccer Town has one thing that differentiates it from similar outdoor complexes in Downtown Miami (Downtown Soccer, Soccer Rooftop), or a nearby indoor facility, Midtown Soccer -- at Soccer town there are three turf fields that are meant for games of six on six, which can be converted into a large field meant for games of eight on eight by removing the mesh net that separates them.
That nifty innovation aside, the center has what you’d expect from a soccer complex. The fields will be available to rent by the hour, and there will be tournaments, corporate leagues, hours available for pickup games, a TV playing soccer games, snacks and bleachers to watch the games from. They hope to add soccer classes for kids soon and will host birthday parties and other events.
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While the fields many be small, they’ll have one thing in common with big stadiums: “sponsorships,” or advertising space will be sold around the fields and behind the goals.
How it happened
Managing member and director Jose M. Castro and his business partner Carlos Acosta are from Barranquilla, Colombia, and noticed a trend in their native country of turf soccer complexes starting in urban settings that lacked designed spaces for soccer games with real goals and lines on the field. Later the pair would add two new business partners, Dan Moss, Acosta’s roommate from Columbia University and Acosta's brother, Luis Acosta.
Castro, a 33-year-old investment consultant who works in at a private investment bank in Miami, started doing market research four years ago and identified Midtown as an ideal location because of its growing population and the fact that it’s easily accessible from Miami Beach and other neighborhoods. This was before the real estate crash, however, and Castro and his partners couldn’t find affordable land to lease that was near a well-trafficked road.
Prices went down in the years following, however, and in the beginning of 2009, they found what Castro sees as an ideal location on one of the area’s main arteries - Northeast 2nd Avenue. He thinks his business will add something unique to the area.
“It’s a place for social integration... where people of all ages can have fun and be together,” he said in a recent phone interview. “It’s something new.”
A hometown soccer star
The general manager of soccer Town is Adria “Pinky” Gaete, who was a star player for Miami Beach Senior High before she went on to play for Barry University, where she graduated in 2005. Gaete has dual US/Chilean citizenship and played for the Chile national team for a brief period in 2009 before an injury cut her career short.
While soccer is popular with girls and young women in the United States, Gaete believes that many women stop playing due to the lack of organized games for adults. This is particularly true after high school, she says, when girls who don’t play for their college teams have few options.
She hopes that Soccer Town can eventually help fill the gap by hosting female soccer leagues.
“There needs more places that focus on bringing women soccer, especially in the Miami, Miami Beach area,” she said.
For the time being, Gaete is focused on getting Soccer Town off the ground, and is excited about what lays ahead.
“It’s a great opportunity to be in new business in an up-and-coming area, and the fact that it’s my passion just makes it more fun,” she said. “We can really explore the possibilities of soccer and be creative with it.”
While Soccer Town has yet to open, field space can be booked by visiting their web page, SoccerTownMiami.com