Inter Miami CF managing owner Jorge Mas is hoping to follow in Orlando City’s footsteps, building a soccer-specific stadium and joining Major League Soccer.
Miami has faced a challenging path to securing stadium land, but Mas assured fellow MLS owners in Orlando Wednesday ahead of the MLS All-Star Game his ambitious plans are on track and the club will be ready to play in 2020.
Inter Miami will play its first two MLS seasons at renovated Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale before moving to Miami Freedom Park by 2022.
Mas still faces obstacles finishing work on the Fort Lauderdale facility.
The stadium, which will seat 18,000, had to undergo a demolition, which happened at the end of May and before the contract and the agreement signed with the city of Fort Lauderdale. Mas added that certain parts of the facility might not be done in time for the 2020 season, including the sport performance center as part of the 50,000 square foot training facility.
Mas said getting the four votes necessary for the stadium to be approved is a top priority and he has no other plans if Lockhart Stadium approval falls through.
“I’m very confident that we’ll have close to 100% of the whole facility done by March,” Mas said. … “There’s no plan b. We’re going to get it done.”
Other potential interim stadium sites were Hard Rock Stadium and Marlins Park. Mas said the team decided on building the interim site to control the fan experience and establish relationships with corporate sponsors.
Mas added there has been more than 8,000 non-refundable deposits for spots in the Fort Lauderdale Stadium. About 2,000 of those deposits are for club seats.
In November, residents from the city of Miami approved a referendum for the team to begin negotiating a lease with the city for the construction of Miami Freedom Park.
The stadium will have a capacity of close to 27,000.
“We’re currently in negotiations for the lease. The lease has not been finalized yet to present to the city commission,” Mas said. “We’re anticipating and hopeful within the next 60-90 days we’ll have something in front of the commission, so that’s taken a few more months than I would’ve liked to. I’m extremely confident that in the next 60 days, we’ll be able to get that through and begin construction on that.”
Once Inter Miami begins MLS play, it will have two regional rivals in Orlando City and Atlanta United. Mas said those rivalries are important as they continue to build the culture of soccer in the state of Florida and MLS.
“Rivalries are fantastic. I think they are great. They animate your base. I think those will be our natural rivals,” he said. “… We wanna have a good rivalry and healthy rivalry with Orlando. We’re competitive, we want to win, etc., but those are important so the fan bases can feed off each other. It’s very important for the state of Florida.”