The stage is set for Inter Miami CF to continue their inaugural season, with Major League Soccer announcing last week that its season will resume starting July 8. But when Inter Miami returns to the field, they’ll do so without fans at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando — meaning South Florida fans and Inter Miami CF Stadium will have to continue to be patient for the team’s long-awaited home debut in Fort Lauderdale.
As a part of the club’s “We Are the Sky” campaign, Inter Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender wrote a poem that discusses missing the emotions fans would provide during a home game — but from the stadium’s perspective.
The team’s March 14 home opener against the L.A. Galaxy and ensuing home games were postponed in mid-March due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The only time Inter Miami fans were able to watch the team suit up at Inter Miami CF Stadium was during an a practice session that was open to season-ticket holders on March 10 — two days before MLS suspended the season.
“All of the players, the club and the community were really looking forward to having the inaugural [home game],” Callender said. “It would’ve been a crucial time to build a relationship with our fans. It’s our home. The stadium itself hasn’t been able to be used as much as we thought it would be used this year. My approach to it was ‘If I am feeling this way, and I’m a player then how would the place feel in these times?’
“Not only do we miss out on spending time in the stadium, but the stadium misses out on spending time with us.”
In the poem, Callender wrote: “The darkest hours summon the brightest lights, and in this light, the herons fly. Alike the herons, I’ve embodied stillness, and since I can’t impress, I must confess…You are the heart, you are the soul, you are the presence that makes me feel whole, you are the community I was built for, you are the fans that we fly for.”
In both the poem and in a conversation with the Sun Sentinel, Callender credits the fans for bringing life and energy to the stadium that the team will miss during the tournament. Inter Miami plans to resume their season in Fort Lauderdale after the tournament end, but it’s unknown whether those games will be played without fans in the stadium.
“In some sense,” Callender said, “the stadium does come alive when the people are there.”
As for how he’s feeling about playing without fans, Callender said it’ll be a challenge but said it’s the right environment for the league to plan in amid the pandemic.
“Collectively as a league, every team wants to play in their own stadium,” Callender said. “Even though it’s a bummer that we can’t be in our home stadium, we’ve all been urging to play so it’s an opportunity to get back on the field in a proper environment.”