MIAMI, Fla. — (March 13, 2009) Once upon a time, the state of Florida had two MLS teams, the Tampa Bay Mutiny, and the (poorly-named) Miami Fusion, whose entire existence as an MLS team was spent in Fort Lauderdale, playing in a rusting,1 old Lockhart Stadium, more than 35 miles from downtown Miami.
For the past couple of years, fútol fans in South Florida had reason to hope a true Miami team would come back to MLS. Led by the biggest club in the world, Fútbol Club Barcelona, and joined by local billionaire entrepreneur Marcelo Clauré, the idea caught the interest of MLS and commissioner Don Garber, who is keen to see the potential of Miami as a lucrative market given the right circumstances. Miami’s appeal made it seem that it was a sure in to acquire an expansion team. It was widely thought that the approval would come next year at the latest, and a new team could be on the pitch by 2012 at the latest.
Fans began debating and imagining what a Miami team would look like. Would it have the obvious colour, aqua, like the NFL Dolphins, or would a Miami team go with colours more like those made famous by the University of Miami, green and orange, which are actually the colours of the city of Miami? Would they go with pink, unique and also popular in Miami? Or, would Barcelona dicatate that the team have Barça’s blue and garnet? It was fun to imagine the possibilities.
However, it now appears that the subsequent mortgage banking crisis and its resulting effect on the economy has “foreclosed” the idea of a Miami Barcelona bid.
In a shocking announcement, Major League Soccer, FC Barcelona, and Miami Bolivian investor Marcelo Claure have jointly agreed that Miami is no longer a candidate to be one of the next two MLS expansion teams, likely to join Montréal.
After extensive discussions and collaborative evaluation, a decision was made that at this time because it was determined that it was not feasible to launch a Major League Soccer team in South Florida in 2010 due to adverse market conditions.
“I remain a believer in MLS and the future of professional soccer in America… particularly in South Florida,” said Marcelo Claure. “Although we have not been able to move forward at this time for a wide variety of reasons, I will work with FC Barcelona on other soccer projects in South Florida.”
“I want to thank both FC Barcelona and Marcelo Claure for the tremendous effort to bring an MLS expansion team to Miami,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “FC Barcelona is one of the best managed and strategically operated sporting clubs in any sport in the World and I appreciate the opportunity that we have had to work with them and Marcelo Claure over the last few months.”
“The U.S market continues to be a priority for FC Barcelona,” said FC Barcelona CEO Joan Oliver. “We will continue our comprehensive game promotion and marketing agreement with Soccer United Marketing and will look for additional ways to strengthen our relationship with MLS and America’s soccer fans.”
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