While headlines banner David Beckham’s search to locate an MLS soccer franchise in South Florida, no private individual in the local sports growth has bankrolled it to the extent of former Scotsman Alan Georgeson and his family.
Georgeson and son, Scott, previously active in European 5×5 soccer venues, brought the miniature version to Kendall in 2010 in what they believe was the first public- private ownership to popularize the miniaturized sport in the U.S.
Since then, they have moved ahead with facilities located in two other Miami-Dade locations during the past four years. Their conservative estimate out-of-pocket cost to date: $2 million.
The Georgesons began with a land lease granted by The Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade, the non-profit agency that supports development of the county parks system.
Choosing the then recently-opened Kendall Soccer Park off Southwest 127 Avenue north of Kendall Drive, they spent $350,000 to build and equip four 5×5 soccer fields that now operate there yeararound with programs for kids of all ages.
The location has also become home for the annual Miami Soccer Festival, which marks its fourth year Nov. 1-2 with thousands expected for a statewide youth soccer competition and a festive venue of soccerstyled entertainment.
Recently underwriting an $800,000 investment at Tropical Park to build two 7×7 fields and one each of 6×6 and 5×5, the Georgesons have also committed $750,000 to build two 7×7 fields at Amelia Earhart Park and plan up to 10 more at that Hialeah hotbed for soccer over the next decade.
Their growing partnership with Miami- Dade Parks has boosted private ventures that host adult leagues for on smaller sized fields, resulting in more than a half-dozen now operating in Miami- Dade, one tucked in among warehouse area in West Kendall, another in downtown Miami.
A side benefit to Miami-Dade Parks — putting recreational land to immediate use when park budgets have tightened for substantial new facility development. Banking on a steady growth throughout the U. S., soccer had its most active year in 2014 with a U. S. World Cup team finishing in the final 16 in Brazil at the same time ex-soccer star Beckham began searching for a downtown waterfront site to house his projected MLS franchise.
Last February, Beckham made a hectic appearance at Kendall Soccer Park that brought soccer kids and families in the hundreds to jam normally- crowded streets, accompanied by Simon Fuller who chatted up Georgeson in support of Soccer 5.
District 10 Commissioner Juan Zapata has also boosted Kendall as a soccer center by proposing a training academy, possibly located on the 58- acre tract off Kendall Drive between Southwest 157th and 162nd Avenues, once planned as a regional shopping center, but never built.
Kendall activists have also proposed the still-undeveloped District Park off Southwest 157th Avenue north of 120th Street. as a potential soccer home for someone, including Georgeson who said “we’d certainly be interested in locating our fields there.”
Today, the Georgesons are busy getting ready to host up to 5,000 rabid soccer fans and teams expected for the two-day Festival at Kendall Soccer Park with youngsters from throughout Florida vying for the Mayor’s Cup Youth Championship.
“It allows our youth to learn the value of how working together can build character through organized sporting events,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez. “Lessons on the field can be used for future success in life.”
FYSA-sanctioned tournaments for boys and girls, ages 12-andunder, will be underway from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. adjoining a midway of soccer- oriented entertainment, music, food vendors, a soccer retail village, demonstrations and other highlights. To participate, go to www.miamisoccerfestival.com or contact the Georgesons at 305-393- 5230.
“Miami-Dade has become the center for the mini-soccer game because of the popularity that continues among adults after they’ve played the game at school age,” Georgeson added “We expect that will only continue in the years ahead.”