Garber Throws Miami a Bone

Wednesday, January 05, 2011 | View Comments
I hear Don Garber is headed down Miami way to meet with the 12 or so people that feel it is their personal mission to continually spam his inbox with "MLS TO MIAMI" emails.

Good for The Don, maintaining his reputation as a man willing to engage the people.

But this is so clearly a bone-throwing exercise that it makes me chuckle a bit. Of course the soccer fans of Miami, the ones interested in an MLS team coming back there anyway, are excited. They're right to be. Their efforts have paid off, and a man with a bit of pull when it comes to the League's expansion itinerary is coming to meet with them personally. It's a credit to their perseverance, made easier by the immediacy and ease of bugging someone of note in the Internet Age.

And I joke a bit when I characterize the group as 12 people, but I don't believe that there is an overwhelming mass of people involved. MLS isn't high-profile enough, especially in a wishy-washy sports market like Miami, to attract an irresistible demand the type of which we saw in Philly expressed through the Sons of Ben. There are certainly some people desperate to see the country's top league return to South Florida. Their passion is commendable. Unfortunately, I can't imagine it will mean anything, at least not right now.

The ugly fact is that MLS has "failed" in the region once before. That statement alone is bound to raise some hackles; there are excuses to be made, and Miami soccer fans will tell you that pulling the plug in 2002 was short-sighted. That may be true, but it doesn't alleviate the problem facing an MLS return to Miami - failure a second time is not a possibility anyone connected with the League and invested in its success is going to voluntarily swallow. In other words, Miami will have to be a sure thing, a 100% lock to sell out a majority of games with a proper stadium bought and paid for (and maybe built) before MLS will seriously consider exposing themselves to the fickle Floridian market.

This town hall setting, wherein Garber will undoubtedly express his admiration for the Miami group's dedication for their cause, is a polite way to say "We know you're there - you can stop with the emails now."  I don't expect the emails will stop, nor should they. If for no other reason than it show that people truly care about top level soccer in the United States, the Miami campaign is a good thing, the vocal nature of it a sign of strength. But short of another dance with Barcelona (remember that?) or someone like them, I can find no reason to believe that MLS will return to Miami anytime soon.

There are no sure things.

Garber is a master of this PR dance. He'll make Miami soccer fans feel good, and encourage them to continue pushing for support in the area. He might even tell them that a solid season of attendance for Miami FC would go a long way towards changing MLS minds on the city. Most of the fans will leave the meeting with renewed hope. If enough fans show up, Garber might even have his opinion shifted, ever so slightly. That's about the best anyone can hope for.

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