While headlines feature David Beckham’s search to locate an MLS soccer franchise in South Florida, no private individual in the sport’s local 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 partnership to popularize the miniaturized sport in the U.S.
Since then, they’ve 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 is $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 SW 127th Avenue, north of Kendall Drive, they spent $350,000 to build and equip four 5×5 soccer fields that now operate the year round with programs for kids of all ages.
The location also has 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 soccer styled 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 also have 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 a warehouse area in West Kendall, another in downtown Miami.
A side benefit to Miami-Dade Parks is putting recreational land to immediate use when park budgets have tightened for substantial new facility development, Georgeson noted.
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 area streets. He was accompanied by Simon Fuller who chatted up Georgeson in support of Soccer 5. District 10 Commissioner Juan C. Zapata also has boosted Kendall as a soccer center by proposing a training academy, possibly located on the 58-acre tract off Kendall Drive between SW 157th and 162nd avenues once planned as a regional shopping center but never built. Kendall activists also have proposed the still-undeveloped District Park off SW 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 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,” Miami- Dade Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez said. “Lessons on the field can be used for future success in life.”
FYSA-sanctioned tournaments for boys and girls, ages 12-and-under, will be underway from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. along with a midway of soccer-oriented entertainment, music, food vendors, a soccer retail village, demonstrations and other highlights.
“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.”
To participate, visit www.miamisoccerfestival.com or contact the Georgesons at 305-393-5230.