Inter Miami CF has been given approval from Fort Lauderdale officials to start Lockhart Stadium demolition work, part of the planning for a proposed complex at the site.
Last month, Fort Lauderdale City Commissioners decided to move forward with a proposal from Inter Miami CF–the MLS expansion club backed by a group that includes David Beckham–to redevelop the 64-acre, city-owned Lockhart Stadium property for an MLS training academy and surrounding amenities. Under the current plans, the club will play is inaugural 2020 campaign and the 2021 season at an 18,000-seat stadium built within the complex, with a USL squad also slated to use the facility. In addition, the development would feature the training academy, four public fields, and public park space.
The two sides still have not completed a final agreement, but an interim agreement approved Tuesday allows Inter Miami CF to do some work at the site. Along with testing soil at the site and beginning to plan and design the proposed project, Inter Miami CF can also demolish both Lockhart Stadium and the adjacent Fort Lauderdale Stadium–a former Major League Baseball spring training and Minor League Baseball ballpark–in the next six months. More from the Sun-Sentinel:
Beckham and his business partners are on a relatively short time line to get a new stadium constructed at Lockhart by next February.
Under Beckham’s proposal, the city will contribute no money toward the new stadium, but would allow use of the city land for 50 years.
Mayor Dean Trantalis raised a concern with Lockhart’s demolition, worrying that if Beckham should “walk away from the deal,” the city couldn’t move to the second-ranked rival bidder for the city acreage. That bidder, FXE Futbol, proposed renovating Lockhart Stadium to host a Division 2 soccer team.
Beckham’s lawyer-lobbyist Stephanie Toothaker said the stadiums likely couldn’t be rehabilitated, and demolition will be costly, because they contain asbestos.
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 at the city-owned Melreese Country Club near Miami International Airport. That would facility eventually serve as the club’s permanent home for MLS matches, with the Fort Lauderdale stadium still used for USL and the surrounding complex home to the club’s training academy.
However, there is still plenty of work to be done in Miami. 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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