Inter Miami CF will play its first home match Saturday at the new Fort Lauderdale Stadium, the club’s temporary home that is certainly not short on fan amenities.
In the backdrop of Inter Miami CF’s launch this spring is an uncertain long-term stadium situation. The club’s investment group, which includes David Beckham, is continuing discussions with Miami officials about redeveloping a city-owned golf course near Miami International Airport with a project that would include a permanent soccer-specific stadium for the MLS club, along with surrounding development.
A 99-year land lease still needs to be worked out, then put before the Miami City Commission—where it will need support from four of five commissioners to move forward. For the time being, the club is expecting to play multiple seasons in Fort Lauderdale—most likely through 2022—but neither the team nor MLS regard Fort Lauderdale as its permanent home.
While it might not be suited to permanently host MLS matches, the new Fort Lauderdale Stadium will still offer some features that fans have come to expect at modern MLS venues.
The stadium will offer a capacity of 18,000 and feature plenty in the way of premium areas. One club located in the northwest corner of the stadium includes a 10,000-square-foot air-conditioned space, plus a second-level outdoor patio providing a panoramic view of the pitch. A midfield club area, meanwhile, is available only to center loge and VIP club ticketholders. In addition, the stadium features field-level suites with room for up to 18 guests and all-inclusive food and beverage (beer and wine).
At the north end of the stadium is a safe-standing supporters’ section. Safe-standing sections are an increasingly utilized design feature in MLS stadium, and Inter Miami CF’s offering is part of a trend in 2020 that sees the amenity further proliferate the league’s slate of facilities. In the northeast corner of the stadium, fans will find the Heineken Supporters Bar.
The new facility was built at the former site of Lockhart Stadium, a longtime professional soccer home—MLS’s last Miami-based team, the Miami Fusion, played there from 1998-2001—that offered a capacity of over 17,000. The club began demolition work last May to pave the way for construction of the new stadium, and Inter Miami CF was ultimately able to build its successor in less than a year.
That was part of the organization’s larger training academy plan. To put this facilities project into motion, Inter Miami CF entered into a long-term lease to gain control of the city-owned site, and tore down both Lockhart Stadium and the adjacent Fort Lauderdale Stadium, a longtime home to Major League Baseball spring training.
In place of those two aging and unused venues, Inter Miami CF has constructed a training academy that offers plenty of amenities in addition to the new stadium that will temporarily host MLS matches and be the permanent home of Division III USL League One’s Fort Lauderdale CF. The complex features six grass fields, plus a turf field that offers seating for 1,500 for events too small for the new stadium, such as high-school football games.
Inter Miami CF is beginning play with an evolving long-term facilities situation, one that it hopes will eventually lead to a permanent home in Miami. While Inter Miami CF still has progress to make in that effort, the new Fort Lauderdale Stadium at least allows the club to launch this spring and play its initial seasons in a venue that offers modern fan-facing amenities.
Image courtesy MANICA Architecture.