Marlins Park is among the options for an Inter Miami CF temporary home, as it was mentioned alongside other venues by managing owner Jorge Mas.
Inter Miami CF–officially known as Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami–is an MLS expansion club that is set to begin play in 2020. The club is backed by a group headlined by David Beckham, along with prominent local businessmen Jorge and Jose Mas, American Idol founder Simon Fuller, SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son and Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure.
The group’s long-term facility plan is to construct a new stadium as part of a larger development at the city-owned Melreese Country Club–located near Miami International Airport. Negotiations over a final agreement with Miami officials must be completed before the project is finalized, but the stadium would not be expected to open until at least 2021. That would require the team to play the 2020 season elsewhere in the Miami area, and it appears that Marlins Park–home to MLB’s Marlins–is one of the options.
When discussing possible temporary homes recently, Mas labeled Marlins Park as a “contender.” Hard Rock Stadium–home of the NFL’s Dolphins and Miami Hurricanes football–also appears to be in the mix, along with Florida International University. Marlins Park was singled out by Mas for having some advantages, however, including a location that is within Miami’s limits. More from MLSsoccer.com:
“It’s a contender,” said Mas of Marlins Park, a $634-million, retractable-roof facility that opened in 2012 and regularly hosts international soccer matches despite having an MLB team as its primary tenant.
“From the beginning I’ve said that our options are Marlins Park, Hard Rock Stadium, [Florida International University]. We’ve looked at potentially playing some games up at FAU [Florida Atlantic University, in Boca Raton], more maybe geared towards a broader fanbase in terms of South Florida. This is a beautiful facility here; we’re in conversations with all of the groups involved. Personally, I like this facility, I wouldn’t mind being here. The big advantage here is we’re a Miami team and this is in the city of Miami.”
One of the city’s leading Cuban-American business magnates, Mas also joked that he also likes Marlins Park because he can see it from his office. Though cohabitating with a baseball team poses scheduling and logistical complications, this particular one was built with soccer in mind and can host a wider pitch than other ballparks.
Given the overlap in MLS and MLB seasons, having the two clubs playing out of the facility at the same time could create scheduling issues that have to be resolved. That said, the situation might be workable for a short time period as Inter Miami CF awaits the completion of its permanent home. The Miami Gardens-based Hard Rock Stadium has become modernized in recent years thanks to extensive renovation work, but it also boasts a very busy year-round event schedule–including soccer matches, concerts, and the Miami Open tennis tournament beginning next year.
The proposal for a new Inter Miami FC facility, dubbed Miami Freedom Park, combines a stadium with surrounding development. It includes a new 25,000-seat soccer-specific stadium, along with adjacent development that includes hotels, retail, offices, and other features on 73 acres, plus 58 acres of park space on the remainder of the 131-acre site. The MLS group would enter into a lease of up to 99 years.
Miami voters overwhelmingly approved an Election Day referendum that allows the project to move forward but does not officially authorize it. With passage of the referendum, the MLS group can effectively bypass a traditional competitive-bidding process and negotiate the terms of a final agreement with the City of Miami. The agreement would require approval from at least four of Miami’s five commissioners to be finalized.
Image from 2017 courtesy Marlins Park.
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