Inter Miami CF Training Academy Pitched for Lockhart Stadium Site

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An Inter Miami CF training academy is being proposed in Fort Lauderdale, as club officials are eyeing the site of venerable Lockhart Stadium

With its planned inaugural 2020 season approaching, Inter Miami CF–an MLS expansion squad backed by a group that includes David Beckham–is working to gets its facility plans in order. A proposed stadium and surrounding development near Miami International Airport is a major part of those plans, but Inter Miami FC is also focused on a separate training academy that could be constructed in Fort Lauderdale.

On Monday, Inter Miami CF announced a proposal for the site of Lockhart Stadium–a facility near Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport that opened in 1959 and has been home to numerous soccer clubs in the past, including MLS’s Miami Fusion (1998-2001) and multiple incarnations of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. Inter Miami CF’s vision for the site includes MLS training space, along with fields for the organization’s youth academy, a facility for a potential USL squad, and community spaces.

The proposal must still be considered by Fort Lauderdale officials, but Inter Miami CF is touting the site’s accessibility to the surrounding region as a major benefit. More from the Sun-Sentinel:

“Our soccer academy is going to be a free-to-play model, so by putting this location in the most central positioning within our market, we’re really allowing easier access for all those kids,” Inter Miami chief business officer Jurgen Mainka told the Sun Sentinel.

In addition to its academy teams, the club would house all its technical staff that supports the MLS team and potential United Soccer League affiliate. Inter Miami would look to have a stadium that could host MLS preseason games and local high school sports, among other sporting events.

The plans for the site, which would continue to be under the city’s ownership, would include public facilities such as a running track, a dog park, playground, public fields and the possibility of a community meeting center.

Under the team’s proposal, the team would pay for the design and construction of all the team’s facilities as well as the public facilities, except for a community meeting center. Once completed, the team would then pay for maintenance and upkeep of the team facilities, and the city would pay for the maintenance and upkeep for the community facilities. The proposed agreement would last for 50 years.

The future of Lockhart Stadium has been a subject of debate for Fort Lauderdale officials. The last incarnation of the Strikers–which competed in the NASL–played its final home game there in 2016, and the facility has been largely unused since then, leaving its condition to deteriorate. For now, the city still has to undertake a review of Inter Miami CF’s proposal before deciding whether to move forward with the concept.

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