Beckham's Inter Miami finally make stadium headway
Inter Miami CF, the new soccer franchise due to debut in North America's Major League Soccer in 2020, has finally secured the right to build a temporary, soccer-only stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, after a motion for the city to enter into agreement with the club was approved earlier this week.
The motion, which as expected passed unanimously among the city's district commissioners, means Inter Miami, owned by former England star David Beckham, can begin construction of their planned venue on the site of the former Lockhart Stadium, an old American football and soccer venue which has been disused since 2016 and was once home to the now defunct Miami Fusion.
This ground is only slated to host the team for two years, as Inter Miami's management plans to use that period to build a permanent home for the franchise at Miami Freedom Park, near to that city's airport. Once the club moves into their new facility, the Lockhart ground will become the home base for their future USL affiliate team in US soccer's second tier.
In the meantime, Inter Miami plan to turn the Lockhart site into an 18,000-capacity venue to host games in the 2020 and 2021 seasons, and have allocated around $60 million for the project. The agreement with the city commissioners board lasts 50 years, and includes the franchise keeping a training facility there after they move to Miami.
The only remaining approval needed now before construction can begin is from the Federal Aviation Commission, required due to the site’s proximity to Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport.
Construction is scheduled to start in mid-September, which will leave around five months to complete the venue in order to ensure it is ready for the start of the 2020 MLS season.
Jorge Mas, managing owner of Inter Miami, said: “We are thankful for the tremendous collaboration from the city of Fort Lauderdale in helping us finalise this agreement and will proceed with the next phase of construction following demolition that concluded in late June.”
The process of securing rights to the Lockhart lot has not been a simple process for Inter Miami.
In April, a lawsuit against the franchise was filed by FXE Football, a sports and entertainment company based in Fort Lauderdale which had bid for the rights to the Lockhart site but was overlooked in favour of Inter Miami.
FXE alleged that “the process to award Miami Beckham United a 50 year lease for Lockhart Stadium has been rushed from its inception."
The company then said that: “The Fort Lauderdale City Commission allowed only 21 days (the legal minimum) for competing bids to be submitted and took just 14 additional days to review them.”
The company also stated that the allegation from Inter Miami that Lockhart Stadium has an asbestos problem, and therefore needs to be bulldozed entirely (in order to build a new stadium), is exaggerated.