Business Monday

South Florida CEOs say that Miami can sustain David Beckham’s soccer team

David Beckham speaks at an event in January announcing that Major League Soccer is bringing an expansion team to Miami. The stadium site in Overtown was never mentioned during that ceremony. Weeks later, the Beckham partnership began pursuing a new stadium site at Miami's Melreese golf course.
David Beckham speaks at an event in January announcing that Major League Soccer is bringing an expansion team to Miami. The stadium site in Overtown was never mentioned during that ceremony. Weeks later, the Beckham partnership began pursuing a new stadium site at Miami's Melreese golf course. AP

This week’s question to South Florida CEOs who are on the Miami Herald CEO Roundtable: David Beckham is establishing a soccer team in Miami, but with attendance weak at Marlins Park and spotty at Hard Rock Stadium, is the city ready to sustain another professional sports franchise? Why or why not?

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Absolutely. I think there is huge excitement for professional soccer in our community, and I believe that the group behind the team will be insistent about making sure there is a quality product on the field.

Vance Aloupis, CEO, The Children’s Movement of Florida

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Soccer is one of the fastest growing sports both nationally and internationally. According to a recent survey, roughly four percent of the world’s population is actively involved in soccer. I believe that having David Beckham’s soccer team in Miami is a tribute to our reputation and is an asset to our city.

Margaret “Peggy” Bass, executive director, Good Hope Equestrian Training Center

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David Beckham has promised to build on private land without any taxpayer dollars. That investment can be great for Miami, have a positive economic impact on surrounding neighborhoods, and inspire collective pride for our newest hometown team. As a community, we should hold local leaders accountable for focusing resources on the most critical roles of government such as affordable housing, transit, and diversifying our jobs base. Investor promises to fully fund their own enterprises must be honored. The last thing Miami can afford is another publicly subsidized stadium.

Stephanie Berman-Eisenberg, president, CEO, Carrfour Supportive Housing

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Miami can undoubtedly sustain another professional sports franchise, especially a soccer team. When you think of the convergence of cultures and passion for sports, Miami and soccer make all the sense in the world. We have enough population density, an affluent upcoming middle class, a strong international heritage and a passion for soccer, all of which make Miami the perfect place to establish an MLS team.

Jose R. Costa, CEO, For Eyes

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I believe Miami is a prime location for a sport like soccer that draws such a diverse fan base. I think it could bring a great energy to the city and perhaps even reinvigorate other existing fan bases in South Florida.

Jeff Gouveia, president, general manager, SE region, Suffolk

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I believe we have the requisite population and economy to successfully support all three. I think the focus has to be on the product delivered and to the marketing efforts of the teams.

Jerome Hutchinson Jr., managing partner, JHJ Marketing Group

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Most likely not. We should focus on how we can strengthen current franchises, learn from their lessons to make sure that future investments into future sport venues have a reasonable payoff for the investors, tax payers and the city. As well as invest public resources in more needed areas, such as quality affordable housing, transportation & wellness initiatives.

Willie Logan, founder, CEO and president, Opa-locka Community Development Corp.

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I think soccer would be big in South Florida because of the huge Central and South American influence. I am not sure if we need another stadium as the tax dollars might be better spent on our transportation infrastructure and schools.

Raymond Mobayed, owner, 4IT Inc.

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We support citywide initiatives and endeavors that increase tourism in the city and if there is a demand that will generate more visitors to our magic city, we welcome them here.

Gene Prescott, president and CEO, Biltmore Hotel, Coral Gables

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Miami has been waiting for this moment for a long time. There is not a better way for soccer fans in our city to celebrate their loyalty to fútbol than having their own MLS franchise. The new stadium will not only represent a victory for the community, but will also impact the local economy and youth development. As the home of soccer in America and a partner of both MLS and US Soccer, we couldn’t be happier with this addition and we are committed to bringing fans live and in-depth coverage of all the action from Miami.

Juan Carlos Rodriguez, president, Univision Deportes

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Soccer has an international draw that other sports lack, which is especially important in a city like Miami. That said, it’s critical the Beckham team do their due diligence and structure their business plan in a way that’s not reliant on international traffic and seems attractive to the local community. As an Argentine, I’m incredibly excited by the idea of having a local team to root for and rally behind and I believe this team has the potential to further unite the entire city.

Carlos Rosso, president, The Related Group’s Condominium division

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I am a co-chairman of the Miami Dolphins Foundation Fins Weekend and on game days, I am on the sidelines entertaining sponsors and helping the foundation. It is an amazing experience to see and hear the fans from that point of view, especially within the newly renovated stadium. I see the excitement of fans when the Hard Rock stadium hosts soccer games, I can only imagine how strong the attendance will be for Dave Beckham’s new soccer stadium. This is a great time for sports in our city, especially with the upcoming 2020 Super Bowl. At the end of the day, it is all about the experience, of course, one can watch it in the comfort of their home, but the fan experience factor at stadiums today is key. Am glad to see Hard Rock stadium has accomplished that. If Mr. Beckham can bring it, fans will come. I feel we are ready for this new sport franchise.

Stan Rudman, CMO and owner, Sportailor Inc.

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Many people like to say that Miami isn’t a sports town, but I disagree. We are a sports town, but we are a sports town with a lot of distractions. There are so many great things to do each day in Miami that there is fierce competition for people’s time and resources here. However, if you put together a quality team, consistently provide an amazing fan experience and demonstrate a commitment to the community, the community in turn will demonstrate its commitment to you.

Kim Stone, general manager and EVP, AmericanAirlines Arena

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We’re absolutely ready for another professional sports franchise, especially soccer, given our proximity to Latin America. In addition to Miami, OneUnited Bank has offices in Los Angeles and Boston where we feel the community spirit generated from multiple sports franchises. However, each franchise must have a strategy for community outreach, branding and marketing. The Miami Heat, as an example, has done an excellent job and has high attendance numbers. Although there is room for another professional franchise, we are concerned about the impact on the Overtown community, where the soccer stadium is scheduled to be built. We hope a community benefits package is included in the plans with monitoring by community leaders.

Teri Williams, president, CEO and a director, OneUnited Bank

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I believe Miami’s chances of sustaining a soccer franchise are very good for the same reason that Latin and European cultures thrive here. It is in the DNA of Miami. Other sports do well but the excitement of World Cup far exceeds the city’s interest in the World Series or even the Superbowl.

Bernard Zyscovich, founder and CEO of Zyscovich Architects

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THE MIAMI HERALD CEO ROUNDTABLE IS A WEEKLY FEATURE THAT APPEARS IN BUSINESS MONDAY OF THE MIAMI HERALD. RECENT QUESTIONS HAVE INCLUDED:

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▪ How CEOs address hostility in the workplace

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