Inter Miami CF’s pitch for the site of Fort Lauderdale’s Lockhart Stadium advanced with city officials on Tuesday, putting the club closer to redeveloping the property with a complex that would include its initial MLS home.
As it prepares to begins MLS play in 2020, Inter Miami CF is pursuing the 64-acre, city-owned Lockhart Stadium property for a project that would include an MLS training academy. Along with the academy, the project would include four public fields, park space, and an 18,000-seat stadium that would host the club for its first two seasons of MLS play.
Fort Lauderdale City Commissioners unanimously ranked Inter Miami CF’s Lockhart Stadium pitch over a competing proposal from FXE Futbol, and ratified those rankings on Tuesday night. The city and the club will now have to engage in a longer process before any agreement can be finalized, but Tuesday’s decision puts the club closer to its goal of moving forward with the project. More from the Sun-Sentinel:
Tuesday’s decision was just a first step. More public vetting will come. Commissioners unanimously ranked Miami Beckham United’s proposal No. 1, over FXE Futbol. The ranking was ratified with a unanimous vote Tuesday night.
Next, a detailed agreement will be negotiated for Inter Miami to use the city property, north of Commercial Boulevard and west of Interstate 95, for 50 years. The agreement will be evaluated by outside consultants, and publicly vetted in another City Commission public hearing and vote later this year.
Only then can construction begin.
“The minute you give us a permit, we’ll start moving dirt,” lawyer-lobbyist Stephanie Toothaker said.
As part of Inter Miami CF’s proposal, Lockhart Stadium and the adjacent Fort Lauderdale Stadium–a former Major League Baseball spring training and Minor League Baseball ballpark–would be demolished. The new stadium would also host a USL club, which would have Fort Lauderdale branding and remain at the facility after Inter Miami CF settles in its permanent home.
The plans in Fort Lauderdale are separate from Inter Miami CF’s pursuit of a new stadium in Miami, which calls for a facility and surrounding development as part of a redevelopment of the city-owned Melreese Country Club near Miami International Airport. Although Miami voters approved a referendum in November that allows the city to negotiate a 99-year lease for the redevelopment, that outcome did not automatically trigger approval for the project. The city and Miami Freedom Park, LLC will have to negotiate a 99-year land lease for the site, an agreement that will require approval from four of Miami’s five city commissioners.
Rendering courtesy Inter Miami CF.
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