A rival group took another step in its dispute over Inter Miami CF’s potential Lockhart Stadium site redevelopment on Tuesday, going to court to stop what it says was demolition work.
Inter Miami CF, an MLS expansion squad backed by a group that includes David Beckham, is aiming to redevelop Fort Lauderdale’s Lockhart Stadium site with a project that would include an MLS training academy and new stadium. A new stadium would be built at the existing Lockhart site, with Inter Miami CF to play home matches there on a temporary basis until a facility can be built in Miami, with a USL Championship squad to use it on a permanent basis.
Fort Lauderdale city commissioners ranked that proposal over a competing plan from FXE Futbol, which called for renovating Lockhart Stadium for a USL club while redeveloping the surrounding land to include soccer and multi-purpose fields, park space, dining and retail options, and a Topgolf facility. FXE Fubol later filed suit against both the city and Inter Miami CF. The lawsuit contends that the city violated state laws while evaluating and ranking the proposals, and alleges that Inter Miami CF exaggerated asbestos issues at Lockhart Stadium.
A hearing for that lawsuit is set for Wednesday afternoon, but representatives for FXE Futbol went to court Tuesday after crews were spotted removing light sanctions at the Lockhart Stadium site. FXE Futbol’s representatives claimed this constituted demolition work, which it is seeking to halt in its lawsuit, but the city contended that removal of stadium lights does not constitute demolition work. More from ESPN:
A hearing for the suit is scheduled for 5 p.m. ET on May 1, but on Tuesday workers began tearing down the light stanchions that ring the stadium. Ft. Lauderdale city manager Chris Lagerbloom denied that demolition work had begun on the site.
“Demolition is not occurring,” Lagerbloom said in an email to ESPN. “The only work being performed on the City-owned property, as of today, is the removal of stadium lights in conjunction with aviation authorities and Florida Power and Light in accordance with the approved Interim Agreement.”
David J. Winker, acting as counsel for FXE Futbol, went to court to put a halt to the work. In an email to ESPN, he said the work being done a day before the scheduled hearing marked “a new low” in the 25 years he had practiced law.
“Their defense was that they were only ‘removing the lights in anticipation of demolition.’ This is clearly not true as evidenced by the many pictures on social media.
Inter Miami CF and the city still have to finalize their agreement before the redevelopment proposal can move forward, but the club did get approval from Fort Lauderdale officials recently to begin demolition work on Lockhart Stadium and the adjacent Fort Lauderdale Stadium. The lawsuit from FXE Futbol was filed after the city granted that approval.
Rendering courtesy Inter Miami CF.
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