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Inter Miami to make Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale short-term home

Inter Miami CF could learn if its home for the club’s first two Major League Soccer seasons will be in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., as early as Tuesday. 

Inter Miami ownership partners David Beckham and Jorge Mas were in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday afternoon to announce a proposal for the future 2020 MLS expansion club to play home games in Lockhart Stadium for the first two seasons while its own soccer complex, Miami Freedom Park, is under development. The Beckham-Mas ownership group will await approval of their proposal when City of Fort Lauderdale commissioners discuss it Tuesday. A potential vote would occur during the night session at a 6 p.m. ET commission meeting.

The club initially submitted its proposal to the City of Fort Lauderdale on Jan. 28. In a statement released Thursday, the club emphasized its commitment to privately-fund the design, development, construction and operation of a training facility and 18,000-seat stadium at the Lockhart site. 

Inter Miami’s proposal includes plans to tear down Lockhart Stadium and replace it with a $60-million reconstructed stadium that Inter Miami would play in for the 2020 and 2021 seasons. The 73-page document submitted by Miami Beckham United, LLC included renderings, a site plan and a schedule that says the group would like to begin construction next month. 

Inter Miami also plans to use the Lockhart site as the club’s training facility and home for its USL Division II team and eight academy teams.

Lockhart Stadium opened in 1959. It was previously the home of the former Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the NASL and former MLS-affiliate Miami Fusion. 

Rendering of potential new Lockhart Stadium. (Courtesy Inter Miami)

“Our ownership group has spent months carefully discussing venue options to launch Inter Miami CF’s inaugural season in MLS, while we build Miami Freedom Park,” Mas said in a statement. “Ultimately, we decided to expand our vision a for the Fort Lauderdale project to launch our first two seasons in the League the right way. Our goal is to provide fans with the most captivating soccer atmosphere and gameday experience, and we did not believe this would be possible at the venues we evaluated.”

Inter Miami plans to make Miami Freedom Park its long-term home, provided approval by the city commission and its ability to negotiate a lease before the 2022 MLS season. The club released the first renderings of the park in July 2018. The site proposed is located in Miami-Dade near Miami International Airport. Inter Miami was unable to find a fit at other local stadiums such as Marlins Park, Hard Rock Stadium and Florida International University, seemingly because of potential scheduling conflicts.

The Lockhart Stadium proposal is competing with another from FXE Futbol, a licensed USL franchise, which included letters from financial and business partners from Fort Lauderdale and a construction outline that would require between 28-36 months of development. FXE Futbol targeted 2021 for its inaugural season.

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