A new partnership between Miami FC, South Florida’s newest professional soccer, and FIU will bring the world’s most popular sport back to campus this spring.
Ocean Bank Field at FIU Stadium will be the home venue for Miami FC, which will begin play in the spring of 2016 as a member of the North American Soccer League (NASL).
As part of the new partnership, Miami FC co-owner Riccardo Silva has given a $450,000 gift to FIU Athletics and the team will provide university students with internship opportunities within the organization.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I’m excited to welcome professional soccer to Miami-Dade County,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez told the crowd gathered at the FIU Stadium Club for the announcement. “It is fitting that our Miami-Dade based state university will be where Miami FC plays. This is a great win for soccer fans in this community and sports fans in general.”
Silva teamed up with former A.C. Milan and Italian national team star Paolo Maldini to create Miami FC, which became the 12th member to join the expanding NASL in May.
Now that the team has a head coach – Maldini’s former teammate Alessandro Nesta – and a home stadium locked down, they will now shift their focus to building a roster with players from all over the world to help the new team be competitive right away.
“It’s a great university and we are honored and proud to be here,” Silva said. “The stadium is perfect for us and we want the students to consider Miami FC as their team. We want them to feel like they are part of the team.”
FIU Stadium was renovated in 2007 with soccer in mind and has been host to a number of international soccer matches since re-opening in 2008.
The stadium was chosen as a host venue for group matches during the 2009 and 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cups and a previous version of Miami FC, now the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the NASL, played a portion of its home games at the facility in 2009.
“This stadium was, in part, conceived so that we can take advantage of the incredible energy around global soccer,” FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg said. “And here we are today, beginning to realize that vision. We know that South Florida is soccer hungry and we are pleased by the exposure Miami FC will provide to this community.”
Miami FC will be the fourth Florida franchise in the league and NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson hopes that these natural rivalries – particularly with the Strikers, who play less than hour away to the north in Lockhart Stadium – will cultivate excitement among fans.
Peterson said during his remarks that he strives to kick off the 2016 Spring Season schedule with a match between Miami FC and the Strikers at FIU Stadium.
“Not many teams are able to launch with a stadium this nice and it will be a great partnership,” Peterson said. “The game is built on these rivalries and it’s important for the growth of the game. This is the right team in the right place at the right time.”
For more information on Miami FC, visit their website.