Judge Allows Lockhart Stadium Demolition to Proceed

Inter Miami CF stadium rendering

On Friday, a judge rejected a challenge to stop Inter Miami CF from proceeding with demolition work at Fort Lauderdale’s Lockhart Stadium to make way for a proposed new stadium and training academy.

Lockhart Stadium and the surrounding land is being pursued by Inter Miami CF–an MLS expansion club backed by a group that features David Beckham–for a project that will include a training academy and new 18,000-seat stadium. The stadium would open in 2020, and serve as Inter Miami CF’s temporary home until a new Miami stadium can be completed. It would also host a USL club 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 Futbol later filed a lawsuit against the city and Inter Miami CF, contending that the city violated state laws while evaluating and ranking the proposals and alleging that Inter Miami CF exaggerated asbestos issues at Lockhart Stadium.

FXE Futbol sought to stop Inter Miami CF from beginning demolition work at the Lockhart Stadium site, but Broward Circuit Court Judge Raag Singhal rejected FXE Futbol’s request on Friday. More from the Miami Herald:

In rejecting the FXE request to freeze demolition plans, Broward Circuit Court Judge Raag Singhal said there was nothing suggesting the city overstepped its authority in picking the Beckham proposal.

This “court does not have unfettered control over a power properly vested in another branch of government,” Singhal wrote.

David Winker, the lawyer representing FXE, said his client plans to appeal. The Beckham group got permission from Fort Lauderdale to begin clearing the Lockhart site even before it had a final deal to take control of the city property, so that it could have construction done in time for the 2020 MLS season.

Kelly Penton, a Beckham group spokeswoman, said Friday the group has begun removing light posts and that demolition work is scheduled to begin next week.

Discussions over the proposal in Fort Lauderdale are separate from the ongoing pursuit of a new stadium and surrounding development on the site of the City of Miami-owned Melreese County Club. That plan–Miami Freedom Park–calls for a new privately financed stadium to open in 2022 at the earliest, but those discussions are far from settled.

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.

RELATED STORIES: Competing Group Aims to Stop Alleged Lockhart Stadium Demolition Work; Competing Group Sues Fort Lauderdale, Inter Miami CF Over Lockhart Stadium Deal; Inter Miami CF Gets Clearance for Lockhart Stadium DemolitionInter Miami CF’s Lockhart Stadium Pitch Moves ForwardProposed Fort Lauderdale Stadium Would Host Inter Miami CF for Two SeasonsInter Miami CF’s Lockhart Stadium Plan UnveiledInter Miami CF Faces Competition for Lockhart Stadium RedevelopmentInter Miami CF Training Academy Pitched for Lockhart Stadium Site

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