Broward County

Competing soccer group sues Fort Lauderdale, Beckham’s team over Lockhart Stadium deal

A few weeks after David Beckham and his partners won a key approval to advance plans to redevelop Fort Lauderdale’s Lockhart Stadium into a training facility for Inter Miami, the group that lost a competing bid for the site has sued the city and team over the project.

FXE Futbol, which had submitted a proposal calling for the renovation of Lockhart to host a Division 2 soccer team, filed suit Monday morning in Broward County court alleging the city of Fort Lauderdale violated state laws in the process of evaluating and ranking the two bids. The suit accuses Fort Lauderdale’s government of skipping required steps in reviewing the Beckham proposal, including getting an outside opinion from an architect or engineer and commissioning an “independent analysis” of each deal’s cost-effectiveness.

On April 2, Fort Lauderdale commissioners ranked Beckham’s Inter Miami ahead of FXE Futbol and approved an interim agreement with Inter Miami that allows the Beckham group to demolish Lockhart during negotiations of a final contract. Inter Miami’s plans include a training facility for the planned Major League Soccer team and an 18,000-seat stadium.

FXE Futbol’s complaint also accuses Inter Miami representatives of overstating the extent of Lockhart’s asbestos problem while persuading city commissioners to give approval for demolition before a final agreement is signed. FXE Futbol’s proposal includes renovating the existing structure.

“We can no longer stand on the sidelines while our due process is being violated,” reads a statement by John F. Reynal, FXE’s managing partner. “Not only do we believe the ranking was carried out without the proper statutory review, but the subsequent signing of the interim agreement to demolish Lockhart would render our proposal impossible to deliver.”

FXE Futbol is being represented by Miami attorney David Winker, who has challenged the Beckham group’s activities in Miami on multiple occasions — from lawsuits to ethics complaints related to lobbying disclosures that revealed the ownership structure of the corporation behind the team’s effort to develop a $1 billion commercial complex and stadium on Melreese golf course called Miami Freedom Park. Voters endorsed a framework of the deal in November; city administrators are negotiating terms of a 99-year lease.

Beckham has been working to field an MLS team in Miami-Dade County for more than five years. By contrast, he secured permission to begin preparing the Lockhart Stadium site in nine weeks.

Fort Lauderdale City Attorney Alain E. Boileau told the Miami Herald the lawsuit had no grounds. “The suit is without any legal merit and will be defended vigorously,” he said.

An attorney for Inter Miami echoed Boileau in a statement Monday.

“We have reviewed the complaint and are very confident that, when the facts are properly applied to the applicable law, it will be determined that this lawsuit has no merit,” said John Shubin. “We look forward to working with the city of Fort Lauderdale to bring Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami team, its training facility and youth academy to the community in 2020.”

Read the complaint below: