Miami boxing team knocked out of AmericanAirlines Arena as match approaches
By Zachary S. Fagenson
South Florida's professional boxing team, the Miami Gallos, threw its final punch at the AmericanAirlines Arena Jan. 5 and will soon be moving to smaller, yet-to-be-named venue somewhere in Miami-Dade.
The team's next home match is slated for Feb. 5, and according to the team's website is to be at the US Century Bank Arena at Florida International University's main campus on Eighth Street and 112th Avenue. Team General Manager and Miami-Dade Sports Commission Executive Director Mike Sophia, however, said a venue has yet to be pinned down.
"I hoped to have it at the end of last week," he said late Tuesday, "but hopefully [I will] in next day or two."
After the Feb. 5 bout, the team has two remaining home matches. The season could be extended past mid-March if the Gallos make the playoffs.
The team's last three home matches have drawn 1,200, 800 and 1,200 attendees.
The decision to leave the arena, Mr. Sophia said, is a combination of the cost of converting its interior from a basketball setup to a smaller "waterfront" venue through use of its curtain system and an effort to better reach out to the sport's fans.
We "want to engage with the fan base as much as possible," he said, and "we've got until the end of this year to see how we can best do that."
The final three home matches could be at three different venues.
Mr. Sophia mentioned sites like Tropical Park Equestrian Center for a possible outdoor venue or even the South Beach nightclub Mansion for future matches.
"I'm not suggesting that any of those are where we're going to be, but let's be creative and figure out what provides the best fan experience," he said. "Downtown's a difficult place for some people, so we're going to play around… to see what works best.
"As we head into next year we can get a better sense of what boxing fans want," he added.
This is the inaugural year for both the Miami Gallos and team professional boxing globally.
The International Boxing Association along with entertainment agency IMG put up several million dollars to start the World Series of Boxing, which allows Olympic boxers to compete and earn a salary without compromising their amateur status and thus their Olympic eligibility.
Teams are positioned around the globe. While those in Europe and Asia were sold to private owners, the league's owners couldn't find buyers for the teams in the Americas, including Miami, and have hired management organizations to run promotions and operations for them.
The Miami-Dade Sports Commission agreed to take the Gallos for about $365,000. The move, in essence, gave Mr. Sophia a second job but also afforded the sports commission more staff than it's had in recent years.
The commission's contract to manage the team expires at the end of this season and whether the relationship will continue will soon be on the table.
"I can't imagine we'll get too far into those kinds of discussions until we get closer to the end of the year," Mr. Sophia said. It's "just a couple months away in March."
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