Now, what might have once felt like a cult low-fi indie band is suddenly the hottest ticket in town.
“We are extremely happy. But as a support group, we have a territorial mindset,” said Roberto Rivadeneira of the Southern Legion, an Ecuadorian-American who has lived in south Florida since 1986. “We have to adapt to new people coming in and accept the fact that new people will come in and probably have them join our groups and of course share the party together.
“They call them ‘bandwagons.’ They may be wagons, but they could become Inter Miami fans in the future, thanks to Messi.”
It’s a welcome, but dramatic change that will take some getting used to.
“It’s a difficult line to balance between your whole lifestyle and weekend activities and culture, absolutely bursting.” But we also realized that at the end of the day, we’re all fans,” Urbaez said. “So you have to welcome the people who, yes, might be here just for Messi, but they’re still buying tickets like you do, paying for parking, walking in, buying shirts, all that.
“I feel like we’re doing a good job of keeping that balance.” At the end of the day, on a personal level, it’s like, “Damn, everything’s going to be different.” It used to be a very intimate, closed environment. And now it’s a completely different animal.”
Green Lot Gang member Tracy Longin is a regular at Miami games with her husband and their 10-year-old son TJ. They were impressed by the warmth and approachability of the Herons’ players, and even the owners, compared to their college football fans who graduated from the University of Florida.
“It’s awesome because it’s like the atmosphere of a much bigger, more prominent team, but we also love the intimacy that we had,” she said, gesturing to the crowd of fans, old and new. “It’s surreal, but it’s also a bit bittersweet, because now we know we’ll never have what we had before, which was a really heartwarming feeling, but it’s exciting to see the team grow and thrive now.” I mean, look at this. This is wild.”