English Premier League, NBC to host two-day soccer fan festival in South Beach

South Florida soccer fans who like to spend weekend mornings tuned into the English Premier League are in for a treat. The Premier League and NBC Sports announced Thursday they are broadcasting a two-day fan festival live from the Clevelander hotel on South Beach Dec. 14-15.

The fan fest will highlight all the weekend matches, culminating with Arsenal vs. Manchester City at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday Dec. 15 on NBCSN and Telemundo. The lively “Premier League Mornings” studio team of Rebecca Lowe, Robbie Earle, Kyle Martino and Robbie Mustoe will be on hand, as well as other special soccer guests and club mascots. They will begin broadcasting at 7 a.m. both days.

Miami-based Telemundo Deportes – the Spanish-language home of the Premier League in the United States – will have a big presence, as well. On-air announcers Andres Cantor, Manuel Sol, Miguel Gurwitz, Copan Alvarez and Ana Jurka are among the guests.

The Saturday matches that weekend are: Liverpool vs Watford (7:30 a.m.), Burnley vs. Newcastle (10 a.m.), Chelsea vs. Bournemouth (10 a.m.), Leicester City vs. Norwich City (10 a.m.), Sheffield United vs. Aston Villa (10 a.m.), Southampton vs. West Ham (12:30 p.m.).

Sunday’s lineup is Manchester United vs. Everton (9 a.m.), Woverhampton Wanderers vs Tottenham Hotspur (9 a.m.), and Arsenal vs. Manchester City (11:30 am.).

This will be the third U.S. fan fest hosted by NBC and the EPL this year. The others were in Austin and Boston.

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“The fan fests are really special because I’ve watched soccer my whole life and nowhere else in the world can you stand shoulder to shoulder with a Manchester United fan if you’re a Liverpool fan and it be ok,” said Lowe, who is from England.

“There is singing and chanting and good-natured banter, and that would never happen in the UK. It’s really special. All the clubs are represented, people watching all the matches at the same time. It comes across on TV that it’s a party and we’re celebrating the joy of the Premier League and the fans in America, who are helping spread the word.”

Lowe is impressed with the growth of EPL viewership in the United States.

“It’s kind of like those word-of-mouth house parties when you were a teenager,” she said. “More and more people in America are waking up and realizing what a beautiful game it is and how accessible it is, how easy to play and how much fun it is to support a club over a season that lasts 10 months a year. It’s the most dramatic league. It’s like watching a soap opera and each week is another episode.”

Miami is a perfect fan fest site, Lowe said, because of its diverse culture and passion for soccer. She said she is eager to see Inter Miami’s inaugural Major League Soccer season in 2020.

“It sounds to me like the soccer appetite in Miami is insatiable, the city is ready for its MLS franchise, as that’s the only piece missing in Miami from this soccer jigsaw,” Lowe said. “And if they’re going to try to have fans there add an MLS team to their EPL and La Liga watching, there is no person better in the world than David Beckham, who will turn those heads. I think it’s exciting, brings star quality and goodness knows what else and who else he brings to the club. As the years go by, we’ll see.”

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Miami Herald sportswriter Michelle Kaufman has covered 14 Olympics, six World Cups, Wimbledon, U.S. Open, NCAA Basketball Tournaments, NBA Playoffs, and has been the University of Miami basketball beat writer for 20 years. She was born in Frederick, Md., and grew up in Miami.